Cross country running is one of the disciplines under the umbrella sport of athletics and is a natural-terrain version of long-distance track and road running. The course, typically 4–12 kilometers (2.5–7.5 mi) long, may include surfaces of grass, and earth, pass through woodlands and open country, and include hills, flat ground and sometimes gravel road. It is both an individual and a team sport; runners are judged on individual times and teams by a points-scoring method. The course is clearly marked. There are judges, as well as coaches, to make sure you stay the course. Cross country running goes back to prehistoric times. Before there were vehicles with wheels people walked or ran everywhere. (Was there road rage back then, too?)
In a cross-country race, runners are expected to stay on the marked path. If they decide to leave the path, the way will be harder, they might get lost, or worse yet, fall and lose precious to time to finish the race well. They may have injuries from a fall that may slow the runner down or even tempt them to quit. But there are coaches that encourage, teach and sometimes run alongside the runner to cheer them on.
As believers, Paul compels us to “run the race marked out for us”. We study to learn the course that we will run. We are “cross” training with our coach, Jesus Christ, the One and Only, to whom we have given our lives. We must train for the race so that our bodies are ready to endure what lies ahead. Just like a cross country course, life will include natural, man-made or artificial obstacles. But, no matter what tries to slow the runner down, cross country courses support continuous running. Living for Christ also commands continuous running. Continuous running is key to winning the race. We don’t quit. We won’t take short cuts. We must stay the course.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV
The emphasis in Psalm 119, the longest psalm, is on the vital ministry of the Word of God in the inner spiritual life of God’s children. It describes how the Word enables us to grow in holiness and handle the persecutions and pressures that always accompany an obedient walk of faith. It is the guide to continuously running the race. Since it is long, we will learn in bite-size pieces. Let us begin our “cross” training following the steps of Jesus, our coach for life.
Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs
Psalm 119: The Message
1-8 You’re blessed when you stay on course,
walking steadily on the road revealed by God.
You’re blessed when you follow his directions,
doing your best to find him.
That’s right—you don’t go off on your own;
you walk straight along the road he set.
You, God, prescribed the right way to live;
now you expect us to live it.
Oh, that my steps might be steady,
keeping to the course you set;
Then I’d never have any regrets
in comparing my life with your counsel.
I thank you for speaking straight from your heart;
I learn the pattern of your righteous ways.
I’m going to do what you tell me to do;
don’t ever walk off and leave me.
TRUTH: Blessed to stay the course. To be blessed is to learn the beautiful rhythmic flow of God’s love, mercy and grace. To be blessed is to stay focused on God, growing in His character and love–leaving all world thinking and idol worship behind. Believe in the Lord and realize His love for us—then love like He loves us. This is being blessed no matter where we live or what our circumstances are—for love never fails. God’s Presence is always with us. Jesus promised His Spirit will remain in us to guide us until He comes back again. This is Truth whether we choose to believe it or not. I choose to believe. No regrets.
Proverb 28: 20, The Message
WISDOM: “Committed and persistent work pays off”…Run to win the race.
Hallowed be Your Name. Blessed are you, Lord. May Your Kingdom come and dwell in us and through us. May Your glory be seen all around us. May Your Will be done in every detail of our lives as it is in heaven. Help us to run the race well to hear your well done at the finish line. Your Word challenges me this morning. Thank you for the lessons of life that keep us continuously running to You with open arms, focused on you with all our mind, heart and soul. Thank you, Lord for saving us to run.
In Jesus Name, Amen