Ready or not, friends, summer is HERE and you know what that means— sun, sand, shorts, and swimsuits. Love it or loathe it, summer kinda forces us into thinking fitness and healthy thoughts as we give ourselves a motivation speech before swimsuit shopping. Everyone’s favourite pastime. For some of us, we suddenly realize we should have started our fitness regime on Boxing Day in order to reach our goals by summer… But it’s all good— we’re in this race for the long haul, whether we take baby steps on faltering feet or gallop like a graceful gazelle. Plus, hello, it’s SUMMER!

 

 

In the world of fitness, how do you feel about running? We tend to fall into one of two camps: the enthusiastic, marathon-goal, effortless sprinters, or the eye-rolling, couch-preferring, pretty-much-exhausted plodders. Personally, I think I’m somewhere in the middle, I love the IDEA of running. Unfortunately, my body is not always agreeable.

Running an actual race is a whole other thing. That gets most of us skittish. Yet here we are, each one of us running the “race marked out for us”, the race of our lives. Some shuffle, some struggle, some bound with effortless energy toward the goal. Those “effortless energy” types have one thing in common—they are all in REALLY GOOD SHAPE. They shed the pounds and got rid of any hindrances.

“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.” Hebrews 12:1 

What is it that “hinders” and weighs us down in our pursuit of living a Christ-filled life? It’s so easy to be drowned by worry, enslaved by fear, consumed by work, distracted by the sparkly things in life, or simply disillusioned. When we carry these extra pounds of sin— and that could be absolutely anything that takes our focus away from the Lord— the race is decidedly harder. It’s like running through bog mud in pouring rain. The journey is miserable, the blessings to others and ourselves are dampened, and we are tangled miserably in our hindrances.

“Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.” Hebrews 12:1b-2 (The Message)

We need to be in shape spiritually.

That doesn’t mean we have it all together right now— we are running a race, remember? It’s quite a long one. Think marathon (sorry). Just as that focused runner prepares for the marathon by losing any surplus weight to run lean and keen, so we need to “throw off’ the excess baggage weighing us down. Not flippantly disregarding our sin, but rather laying it down before the One who bears our every burden. Sometimes it can be a painful process, but once that metaphorical Band Aid is stripped off, we heal and move much more easily and freely. And then we can joyfully and energetically run the “race marked out for us”.

 

 

The good news? We aren’t in this race alone! God so desires for us to live joy-filled, Christ-glorifying lives, and He WILL sustain our every step. The faltering foot, the confident stride, the desperate dash, the persistent plod, the weakest limp… He will never leave us to run alone. Never.

And so in this new season as we launch into summer, it’s healthy to reflect on how our race is progressing, and to keep a check on what’s weighing us down. All of us have some spiritual slimming to do in order to run effectively; it’s an on-going process, isn’t it? But with God as our Sustainer and His Word as our nourishment, we can strive to strip off our sin, shed the spiritual fat, focus on Jesus, and “run the race with perseverance” all the way to the finish line.

Transforming hindering pounds to limitless bounds, and spiritual fat to fit. 😉

Here’s to a happy, healthy summer—

 

 

 

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