Around Mid-March last year, I had a dream that really put things into perspective.
Let me set this up for you:
If you’re American (I know many of you aren’t, and I love you all dearly) there is this test that everyone does in P.E. where you have to run a mile. I can’t remember what time we should have done it in, but in this dream I could feel myself running.
Like hard! Let me just say, in real life, I do not run often let alone for exercise. Yet, I was running with this large group of people around a track. I felt myself slowing down at some points. Sometimes it felt like I was lagging behind a couple of others, but then I’d catch up in the group.
As my Mom puts it, I eventually caught “my second wind” and pushed forward with my pacing in breath and stride. Until eventually I heard a man’s voice yell, “57!”. So I thought, “Oh yeah! 7 minutes and 57 seconds! Not bad for me.” But this is where I woke up.
Now if you’re like me, I woke up scratching my head because I had no idea what this meant. And I realized that’s okay, God can give you a head-scratching moment for a little while, but He also gives you clarity.
So here’s the lightbulb moment for me.
When I looked back at the first part of the dream, I was reminded of Hebrews 12:1 NLT:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
Just like you are running this race of faith, there are many others who have gone ahead, coming up with you, and coming from behind. There is a whole lot of believers out here, connected by God, running to the same finish line, not in competition but together! You are not alone!
Why are we jealous of our brother or sister if we’re all running in the same direction? In the words of sister Miley, “Ain’t about how fast I get there. Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side. It’s the climb.” We all have to run it regardless.
Anyways, what I like about verse 1 is that it defines what slows us down the most.
We’ve already been conditioned to run, but it’s what we put on that causes the slow down. Awhile back, we talked about how sin is a sickness that needs to be cured. Likewise, when you’re sick, you’re weighed down, fatigued, struggling to push forward. You can’t function at your optimal level to be as active in the race. You start fumbling, then slowly falling and eventually you’re sitting in the middle of the track during the race of your life.
How are we even supposed to recover? Well I have a couple of questions for you.
Ask Yourself: What sins do I need to “strip off” that are slowing me down in my race of faith? Am I fumbling, tumbling, or have I fallen?
And be honest with yourself.
I’ve been there.
We all have because we aren’t perfect.
2 Corinthians 12:9 says,
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
Your weakest hour is God’s strongest if you just start believing. The race is not over.
Isaiah 40:30-31 puts it like this;
30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
NOW, GET UP AND START RUNNING AGAIN!
I know I have spoken about what it’s like to fall, but what about you who have been running, but find yourself lagging?
Galatians 5:7 NLT reads:
You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth?
What’s distracting you from the race? Better yet, what do you need to do to refocus?
When you’ve been running for along time, what used to be outside of your norm becomes routine. Escape the routine! Find another way to draw your focus back to God. It’s not coincidental that a “second wind” comes when we decide to press on and continue.
The last thing I want to mention is what was said are the numbers that were yelled at the end of the race.
Separately, according to Ira Milligan’s “Understanding the Dreams You Dream“, 5 and 7 are two very important numbers.
Five means to serve, works or service, and seven means all, finished, rest.
Do you see where this is going?
Getting across the finish line of faith means serving and accomplishing works. How can you show for it, if you don’t do it? We all know the scripture:
“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.“
James 2:26 NKJV
Likewise, after crossing the line, it’s over and we enter into rest with God. Our prize is spending eternity with Him!
So I encourage you good people, to endure the race of faith. It may be hard, perilous, and scary at times, but it’s well worth it by the end.
24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.
1 Corinthians 9:24-26
I have observed something else under the sun. The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise sometimes go hungry, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being in the right place at the right time.
Ecclesiastes 9:11 NLT