Today I continue my series of running devotions for My TEA CUPP for Athletes & Runners Book & Journal. I pray these will be a blessing to you and you will be encouraged to PRESS ON! Hope you are inspired as you exercise your faith!
But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:27 (NKJV)
I remember the day like it was yesterday. It was my first big indoor track meet of my junior year of high school. It was the first time I had qualified to run the Drake Indoor meet in Des Moines, Iowa. I was so excited to run the race, though running distance runs on an indoor track can be tedious as you go around and around multiple times.
It must have been a two mile race, because that was the longest distance for girls at the time. The track was half the size of the outdoor track, making it 220 yards, or 200 meters. Instead or running 8 times around the outdoor track, we would be running 16 times around the indoor track to make two miles (doesn’t sound so far if you’ve run the 5K or 10K on a track!).
To make things easier on the judges, the race officials decided that if anyone was lapped, they would be knocked out of the race, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to monitor how many laps people had left to go. With only a 200 meter track, that meant many girls could be lapped before the winner finished her two miles.
The lead runner was so fast, it didn’t take her long to be 200 meters ahead of the pack. I was one of those girls who was lapped and disqualified from the race. In tears I left the track, so sad to be out of the race I truly wanted to finish. I was heartbroken, watching the other girls finish the race. The girl who lapped me was a star senior runner from Cedar Falls, Iowa, who only a few years later would become my friend and college teammate, pointing me to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.
Besides being lapped, there are many other ways an athlete may become disqualified… too many false starts, taking drugs, yelling at the line judges, etc. But while in athletics we can try again the next year to follow all the rules of competition, in our spiritual lives we never want to be disqualified.
If I say, “My foot slips,”
Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up. Psalm 94:18 (NKVJ)
What could disqualify us from receiving our crowns in heaven? Not believing in Jesus (John 3:18). Not allowing the Holy Spirit to do its perfect work in us (Mark 3:9, Luke 12:10). Falling into temptation and lust and pride without repenting, when God has called us to serve Him (1 Peter 1:16). Oh dear athlete, let us live our Christian lives even more carefully than we do as runners, that we may never be disqualified.
And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. Romans 8:10 (NKJV)
Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified. 2 Corinthians 13:5-6 (NKJV)
The Runner’s TEA CUPP: Have you been knocked out of the race? Dear athlete, let Jesus pick you up! He is coming again to judge the living and the dead (Acts 10:42) Turn to Him for help while there is still time. Confess your sins, let Him wash you clean and put you back on your feet. Memorize 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. Start running for Him again.
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. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 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. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NKJV)
Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects;
Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty. Job 5:17 (NKJV)
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Psalm 51:11-12 (NKJV)
Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honorable, though we may seem disqualified. 2 Corinthians 13:7 (NKJV)
Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.