When running a race and competing in it, our ultimate goal is to win the race. So, as we run, we must run the entire race with the intention of being the winner. This seems elementary, doesn’t it? But if we’re actually going to win the race, there are a few key elements that must be in place.
First, there has to be the seemingly obvious realization that there is going to be only one winner of the race. So there has to be a determination on our part that all of our actions and decisions along the way will lead to that ultimate outcome. This is what Steven Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, describes as beginning with the end in mind. So each measurement of the race must be an intentional and crucial step toward reaching the finish line first.
Second, with the forethought mentioned previously, we must shed any extra “baggage” that may be slowing us down aerodynamically. In Hebrews 12, the writer of Hebrews says that we must lay aside every encumbrance and sin which so easily entangles us and run with endurance the race that is set before us. I love that word encumbrance that the New American Standard bible uses, because that encompasses, in my opinion, anything that slows us down in our efforts toward running a winning race. An encumbrance could mean anything from unconfessed sin, harmful or draining relationships, or any sort of burden or impediment to the eventual result.
Last in this writing today, it is crucial during a footrace to intake as much oxygen as possible during a race. It is scientifically proven that maximizing your oxygen intake helps a runner run faster and endure longer. With this in mind, it is more effective if a runner takes deeper, slower, longer breaths rather than rapid, shallow breaths. A runner’s body naturally gasps for more shallow and rapid breaths as they become more exerted. But we must push aside the urge to take in shallow breaths and force our bodies to take in deeper, more oxygen-filled breaths so that it penetrates more of the lungs and thus expelling more of the less-desired CO2. This will help a runner run faster and longer. It’s interesting to me that all throughout scripture, God is described as lifting up our heads during our race. By lifting up the head, a runner naturally takes in more oxygen and is able to more easily expel the undesired components that will slow a runner down and/or cause him to shorten his or her distance.
We all want to run a solid, winning race. We must do the things along the way that will lead to the outcome we are seeking. Each decision we make will affect the quality of our individual race. As Steven Covey says, we must begin with the end in mind. Each decision we make will increase or decrease our chances of running a winning race.