Christine Caine - Run To Win - Part 1
Hey, it's great to see you. You know, if you and I got to sit down and have coffee together, there's one thing I bet you'd discover about me pretty quickly, and that is that I am extremely passionate. I'm an all or nothing kind of girl. Now when God calls me to something, I'm all in. But if there's one thing I've realized after following Jesus for over 30 years of my life, it's that starting strong is not enough. We're also called to finish well. And in today's message, I've got a word that's going to inspire you to not only run the race that God has called you to, but also to finish it full of faith. So let's dive in and watch this today.
Hey, everyone. I am so grateful that you have joined me today. I know that God has a word for you. I'm believing that you've tuned in at the right place at the right time and God's going to speak to you. Well, I'm going to jump right in because you all know that I am Greek and I am obsessed with Greek history and Greek food and Greek everything. But I grew up with my parents recounting countless and countless stories of the days of past Greek glory. So if you're Greek, you know how patriotic we are. We love to take the credit for everything, language, sport, architecture, literature, science, technology, and especially food. So basically, everything in the world. So if you've ever seen the movie, "My big fat Greek wedding," then you are going to understand my Greek life.
I'm also a history major, and to this day, I love to read historical novels, watch historical documentaries, and learn lessons from the past. Now one battle we studied in my Greek history class was the battle of marathon, and I've actually been to marathon in Greece. Well, back in the 4th century BC, the Greek and Persian army fought in the the Greeks were outnumbered four to one, but they launched a surprise attack, which would have appeared ridiculous because they had literally no chance of winning. Well, shockingly, by the end of the battle, 6.000 Persians were dead and fewer than 200 Greeks had died. The surviving Persians fled back to their ships and the Greeks had secured their homeland. They had victory. So the odds were so heavily stacked against them, but they still won. So there was a soldier called Pheidippides. That's a great name, isn't it? Very, very Greek. Well, he was chosen to take the news of this victory back to the capital, to Athens.
Now you have to know that this wasn't a quick sprint or a short jog. It was literally a 26.3 mile journey, and he'd just finished fighting a battle don't forget. So I don't think I could do that distance after two months of training and proper rest, let alone after having fought a huge battle. Well, it seems like he ran at full speed for the entire race and he never stopped even once. He was so exhilarated by the victory they had and he just wanted to get there. Pure adrenaline, I think, is what actually kept him going. So when he finally entered Athens, which was the capital of Greece, he shouted, "We were victorious"! Well, in Greek, that's one word. Now I hope I said that right. I know I'm Greek, so all my Greek scholars out there, I came close. And then he literally dropped dead. I mean, that is, like, so sad. He survived the battle, but he died of exhaustion at the end of his victory run. So in case you've ever wondered, the marathon race retracing Pheidippides' original course, it was added the Olympic games in recognition of his amazing achievement.
Now, I've been there, and I have to admit, I got a little emotional thinking about the fact that this awesome man declared, "We won"! And then the man died. How incredible would it have been if he had lived long enough to enjoy the fruit of his victory? When reading about Pheidippides, because I'm a book nerd and I love to study, I noticed that many historians suggested that by doing a few things differently, Pheidippides could've lived and not died. According to many accounts, Pheidippides never slowed down to take a drink or to have any food or to rest. He did not pace himself through the grueling uPhill stretches of this legendary run. And although he was the first marathon runner, he apparently ran his last race more like a sprinter. So you might be wondering, listen, why am I giving you all of this history?
You might be saying, "Christine, on this program today, why are we talking about a marathon race"? Well, you think you've tuned in to get a word from God and not a running update, and the fact is you're right. You're thinking to yourself, "This is exactly why I don't run marathons, Christine. I don't want to get to the finish line and just, you know, die". So I get it. But I want you to turn with me today to the book of Corinthians, I Corinthians 9:24-27, because we're going to see from scripture that our spiritual lives are not unlike running a marathon. And there are numerous lessons that we can learn to make sure that we not only run our race, but that we finish our course. We only have one life on this side of eternity and we want to make it count. We do not want to waste our one and only life. We want to live for the glory of God.
We are actually going to read out takes from the message Bible translation today because I love the way that Eugene Peterson has paraphrased this portion of scripture. This is what he writes. He says, "You've all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs, but one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You're after one that's gold eternally. I don't know about you, but I running hard for the finish line. I'm giving it everything I've got. No sloppy living for me! I'm staying alert and in top condition. I'm not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself".
You know, I get so fired up every time I read this passage. It's so exciting. And even if you're not an athlete, this makes you want to be one. In this passage, Paul likens the Christian journey to a race and tells us we are all in this race whether we think we are or not. The fact that we're alive and breathing air means that we are in the race of life. He says that in a natural race, people run for medals. And if you've ever watched the Olympic games, you might be like me and I cry at almost every medal ceremony, no matter who wins gold or silver or bronze. I see them standing on the winning podium and I think of all of this sacrifice, all of the training, all of the effort and hard work, and I seriously get so emotional. But Paul says that we are running for an eternal medal. There is a purpose to our spiritual race. There are eternal rewards at stake.
Now the fact is the race that we are running, it lasts for the term of our natural life. It's not a short-term sprint, but it's a lifelong marathon. But if we run this race like a sprint, we are really likely to end up like Pheidippides. But if we run it like the marathon that it is, we will have different expectations, a different pace, and a different result. Like Paul said, I want you to run to win. I want you to run to win. I don't want us to just start this spiritual journey. I want us to have strength to continue it and I want us to finish strong. So whatever age you are on the other side of the screen, whatever stage of life you are in, whatever season you find yourself in the middle of right at this moment, I believe that you've tuned into this program because God wants to remind you that he is with you, that he is for you, and that his spirit will empower you to not only run your race, but to finish your course.
I want to remind you that you matter. Your race matters. Your calling matters. Your purpose matters. You might be feeling weary, particularly after this last season we've all lived through. You might feel defeated. You might feel like somehow you've been disqualified. You might be feeling disillusioned. You might be feeling discouraged. You might be feeling discombobulated. How is that for all my d words? You may be feeling that you've been under non-stop attack from the enemy. But I'm here to remind you today that although the weapon was formed against you, it did not prosper. You're still here. God still has a plan for your life. God still has a purpose for your life. There is still a race for you to run. You are not at the finish line yet. I want to remind you today that the devil on his best day didn't take you out on your worst day. You're still here. There is still abundant life in Christ ahead for you.
We are going to learn to do this together in this series. I'm here to remind you, this is not a time to quit, this is not a time to stop, this is not a time to pull back, this is not a time to pull back from the purpose that God has for your life. It's a time to get up and make a decision, I'm getting back in the race, I'm going to run my race, and I'm going to finish my course. The enemy has tried to come against me, the enemy has tried to take me out, but I'm getting back up in my strength in Christ. I'm going to run my race and I'm going to finish my course. You know, I've been following Jesus for over 30 years, and what I've observed over time is that many people, they star well, they start well, but they don't finish well.
And the truth is how you finish this race is almost more important than how you start. Because once you've started, you've started. But then you have to know how to keep going when it's hard and when challenging times come and when boredom sets in and when disappointments come and when betrayals come and when failures come and fear comes. Knowing how to keep going in the middle is going to do determine whether you ever, ever get to the end. See, like the apostle Paul, we want to be able to say not only I have run my race, but that I have finished my course. You know, we tend to remember the people in life who overcame great obstacles and defied the odds to run their race and finish their course. There's something attractive about resilience, about having tenacity, about having strength and courage.
Do you remember in numbers 13 where the Lord told Moses to send a leader from each of the 12 tribes into the land of Canaan, which the Lord was going to give to the children of Israel as their inheritance? Now, all of these guys were leaders. All of these leaders were obviously at because they had led one of the 12 tribes of Israel. Every one of them was given the same opportunity to see the same thing and trust the same God who had promised to bring them into Canaan, their Promised Land. But the fact is, because of fear, 10 of the 12 leaders gave a negative report and they did not even get to go in and possess their promise. They did not finish their course because of fear, because of doubt, and because of unbelief. They came back to Moses and they said, "There are just too many enemies against us. It is too difficult to go in and take the land". So they didn't finish their course because of fear, doubt, and unbelief.
Now, I want to ask you today, do you know anybody who has ever named their kid shammua or Gaddiel or Shaphat or Gaddi or Igal or Ammiel or Hoshea or Sethur or Palti or Hahbi? Well, no. And if you are, okay, I'm sorry, but no, I don't know anyone. We don't even remember the names of those 10 leaders. They were the names of the other 10 leaders that went in to look at the Promised Land. See, because they dropped out of their race, because they did not finish their course, we don't even remember their names anymore. But we should have remembered their names because the fact is they all, all were leaders that went into the Promised Land.
But if I was to ask you how many of you know people who have named their children Joshua or Caleb, or who knows somebody called Joshua or Caleb? Well, basically, I guarantee you, almost all of us would raise our hands because these two leaders, they were not any more skilled or special than the other 10 leaders, but they simply ran their race and they finished their course. And because they ran their race and because they finished their course, we remember them today. You see, when you and I remain faithful to our race and overcome the obstacles to actually finish our race, it doesn't impact only us: it impacts the generations that are coming up behind us. Finishing is as much about legacy as it is about the reward that you and I are going to receive from the Lord. Joshua and Caleb didn't only start strong, but they finished strong. Joshua led the children of Israel into the Promised Land. And at 85 years old, I love this, Caleb declared, "Here I am this day, 85 years old. And yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me: just as much strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. Now therefore give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day".
We see that in Joshua 14 in verses 6 to 14. You see, that's the kind of spirit that I want. I want the kind of spirit that says I'm 85 and I'm just getting started. God is not finished with me yet. There's still kingdom work to do. There are still kingdom assignments to fulfill. I still have a kingdom purpose. I want to lay a hold of all of that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold of me. I'm not done until I'm done, and until I'm done, I'm going to continue to run. I want to run my race. I want to finish my course. The truth is that the only way we will ever go the distance is to fix our eyes on Jesus. I want to remind you today that Jesus is the author and the finisher of our faith. Jesus is the one who gives us strength. He is the reason we are running our race. He is the prize at the end of our race.
Right here in Hebrews 12:1-2, it says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us". Here we go. "Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, is seated at the right hand of the throne of God". Did you see what the writer to the Hebrews said? He said, "Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us". Not somebody else's race, but our own race. Did you know God's got a race for you? God's got a purpose for you. God's got a destiny for you. There is a grace for our race. There is a pace for our race. This is a race, but we're not competing with other Christians in our race. We are running for God. We are running for the glory of God. We are running with God. We are running to God. We don't compare ourselves to other people. We don't compete with other people. We run against ourselves for the glory of our great God.
I want you to know that the enemy will always try to get you to get your eyes on people, on things, on money, on status, on everything else but Jesus. He's going to keep you scrolling through everyone else's life so that you do not live the life that he's given you. If you can keep your focus on Jesus and not get distracted, that will be the thing that will help you run your race, and that will be the thing that will help you to finish your course. You see, God doesn't want us just to start. God wants us to finish. And without fixing our eyes on Jesus, we will never finish. I want to remind you, we are living in days of attractions and distractions. It's almost like we can't focus on anything for too long. We have got to do something about this obsession that we have with our phones, this obsession that we have with social media, this obsession we have with what everybody else is doing.
I'm utterly convinced that if the enemy can keep us scrolling through everybody else's life, we will not live the one and only life that God has called us to live. And the life that most people post is a filtered life. It's one that's got, it's been edited, it's been cropped. It's just the highlight reels of all of the good things that are happening. And normally when we look at that, it makes us feel diminished. It makes us feel less than. It makes us not want to get up and run our race. We are not going to have the stamina or the strength to run our race if we do not fix our eyes on Jesus. You and I, we become what we behold. So if we behold Jesus, we fix our eyes on him, we become like him. The purpose of the race is to become conformed and transformed more and more into the image of Jesus Christ. So we fix our eyes on him. He is why we're running. He is who we are running to. He is who we are running for.
We want to advance the Kingdom of God here on earth as it is in heaven. But unless we learn to discipline our eyes and fix our eyes on Jesus, we will not get to the end. So we've got to get rid of other attractions. We've got to get rid of other distractions. Some of us, we need to stop binge watching a whole lot of programs. We need to get some of those apps off our phones. We need to change some of our friendships. We need to rearrange some of our priorities. We need to get up, fix our eyes on Jesus and his word first thing in the morning. We need to get some worship music happening in the atmosphere around us. Fix our minds on Jesus. We need to look at what we're doing with our lives and to ask ourselves, am I doing this for the glory of God? Am I doing this in the strength of God? Am I doing this in the confidence of God?
I don't want to pull back. I don't want to live a life just for me. I don't want to run an aimless life. I don't want to run a purposeless life. I want to fulfill the life that God has put me on this earth to live. I want to fulfill the course that God has put me on this earth to live. I want to live a life of purpose. I want to live a life of destiny. I want to advance the Kingdom of God here on earth through my own life. I want to bring great glory to my God through my life on this earth. Because the scripture says it is to our father's great glory that we bear much fruit. We don't want to run like we're running a sprint. We want to run like we're running a marathon. We want to give glory to God, we want to get to the end, and we want to hear the words, "Well done good and faithful servant".