We must run with purpose. We must run toward something, have a goal, something we are striving to reach, to obtain. In real life, in running, we may strive to run for 5 more minutes, to reach that next mailbox, to be 1 minute faster than before, to finish.
“You may have heard the story of John Stephen Akhwari, the marathon runner from Tanzania who finished last at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. No last-place finisher in a marathon ever finished quite so last. Injured along the way, he hobbled into the stadium with his leg bloodied and bandaged. It was more than an hour after the rest of the runners had completed the race. Only a few spectators were left in the stands when Akhwari finally crossed the finish line. When asked why he continued to run despite the pain, Akhwari replied, “My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me here to finish.”
That is how we grow, how we get stronger, we have a purpose and we try our hardest to reach it, to run toward it, we strive to finish no matter what! Spiritually we have a purpose too!
Romans 8:28-30 Our purpose is His purpose, it is to be conformed into the image of the Son of God.
We must run with that purpose, to spend each day trying to be even closer to that image.
“The Greeks had a race in their Olympic games that was unique. The winner was not the runner who finished first. It was the runner who finished with his torch still lit. I want to run all the way with the flame of my torch still lit for Him.” (Joseph Stowell,Fan The Flame, Moody, 1986, p. 32. http://www.thegracetabernacle.org/quotes/Perseverance-Exemplified.htm)
We want to run in such a way our light never goes out. That we keep His light shining our whole lives and we keep living each day reaching for the ultimate goal of spending eternity with Him. We must run to win. We can’t run half way, we can’t be lukewarm. We can’t live the way we want, life for self and try to have a little church on the side, but fully!
1 Cor. 9:24 “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. “
In running or any sport, do you go out expecting to lose? Do you go out knowing you are not going to give your all? No we always go out to win!
We must run with purpose, not with uncertainty, but with discipline and in subjection to Christ. 1 Cor. 9:26-27 “Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
One key to running is realizing that it is a process. We run with a purpose, with a goal we want to obtain in our sights, but we must realize who we are, in that we are not perfect and we can’t expect to be overnight!
Phil. 3:12-14 “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Paul wrote that he had not already obtained, that he wasn’t perfected. Paul!! This man who has seen so much, who has lived such a life as he did, knew he wasn’t there yet! We need that attitude. Knowing we are going to press on, keep going, keep trying to reach for it, letting go of the weights, letting go of the past, not letting it keep us down.
I want to share another story with you of someone who ran with purpose! A purpose of proving that even when everyone said he couldn’t, He knew he could!
The Legend of Cliff Young: The 61 Year Old Farmer Who
Won the World’s Toughest Race
Every year, Australia hosts 543.7-mile endurance racing from Sydney to Melbourne. It is considered among the world’s most grueling ultra-marathons. The race takes five days to complete and is normally only attempted by world-class athletes who train specially for the event. These athletes are typically less than 30 years old and backed by large companies such as Nike.
In 1983, a man named Cliff Young showed up at the start of this race. Cliff was 61 years old and wore overalls and work boots. To everyone’s shock, Cliff wasn’t a spectator. He picked up his race number and joined the other runners.
The press and other athletes became curious and questioned Cliff. They told him, “You’re crazy, there’s no way you can finish this race.” To which he replied, “Yes I can. See, I grew up on a farm where we couldn’t afford horses or tractors, and the whole time I was growing up, whenever the storms would roll in, I’d have to go out and round up the sheep. We had 2,000 sheep on 2,000 acres. Sometimes I would have to run those sheep for two or three days. It took a long time, but I’d always catch them. I believe I can run this race.”
When the race started, the pros quickly left Cliff behind. The crowds and television audience were entertained because Cliff didn’t even run properly; he appeared to shuffle. Many even feared for the old farmer’s safety.
All of the professional athletes knew that it took about 5 days to finish the race. In order to compete, one had to run about 18 hours a day and sleep the remaining 6 hours. The thing is, Cliff Young didn’t know that!
When the morning of the second day came, everyone was in for another surprise. Not only was Cliff still in the race, he had continued jogging all night.
Eventually Cliff was asked about his tactics for the rest of the race. To everyone’s disbelief, he claimed he would run straight through to the finish without sleeping.
Cliff kept running. Each night he came a little closer to the leading pack. By the final night, he had surpassed all of the young, world-class athletes. He was the first competitor to cross the finish line and he set a new course record.
When Cliff was awarded the winning prize of $10,000, he said he didn’t know there was a prize and insisted that he did not enter for the money. He ended up giving all of his winnings to several other runners, an act that endeared him to all of Australia.
In the following year, Cliff entered the same race and took 7th place. Not even a displaced hip during the race stopped him.
Cliff came to prominence again in 1997, aged 76, when he attempted to raise money for homeless children by running around Australia’s border. He completed 6,520 kilometers of the 16,000-kilometer run before he had to pull out because his only crew member became ill. Cliff Young passed away in 2003 at age 81.
Today, the “Young-shuffle” has been adopted by ultra-marathon runners because it is considered more energy-efficient. At least three champions of the Sydney to Melbourne race have used the shuffle to win the race. Furthermore, during the Sydney to Melbourne race, modern competitors do not sleep. Winning the race requires runners to go all night as well as all day, just like Cliff Young.
He had a goal and knew what he wanted to do! He wanted to prove he could finish. He didn’t let distractions stop him. He didn’t let other people saying he couldn’t do it stop him. He didn’t let “you’re doing it different from everyone else” or “you will never make it if you run that way” stop him from doing what he knew would get him to his goal! He ran a purpose and was surprised a the end to discover there was a big prize! We know there’s a prize and must fun to obtain it!
I really enjoyed this topic and I hope you have been enjoying my notes.