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July 10, 2009

Avoiding Injury in the Race

While running on a treadmill one morning, I found myself focusing on the red-lettered warning on the display panel. It cautioned: To Avoid Injury: "Read Owner's Manual first; Stop if you feel faint, dizzy, or short of breath." At first they seemed unnecessary; but then it struck me: While the instructions held obvious application to my physical condition, they also held subtle application to my spiritual condition. As we run the "race marked out for us," here's how we might protect against spiritual injury.

Read Owner's Manual first. Each one of us has been wonderfully made, specially designed, and set apart for specific purposes. To best understand who we are, how we operate, and how we're to serve in the Body, we need to carefully examine the Scriptures and understand our Maker's intentions. His thoughts on us are the ones that matter in this race. If we jump into running without a clear understanding of him and his will, we risk injury to ourselves, and to those we serve.

Are you taking the warning seriously? 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the [wo]man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." How are you being equipped on a daily basis for the run ahead of you?

Stop if you feel faint. When I think of "faint" in light of my spiritual condition, I think of the strength of my heart; the ability to carry out what the Lord has called me to with courage and perseverance. When I'm faint in my faith, I might be far from the Lord and running out of my own strength. Or I might be focusing on my fears instead of taking courage in the truth of the Word, and getting very tired. This faintness or "fatigue" in the faith is a warning sign I can't afford to ignore as a leader; there's too much at stake.

Have you felt faint while running lately? Through Isaiah, we're told that those "who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (40:31). And through Jeremiah, we're told it is the Lord who will "refresh the weary and satisfy the faint" (31:25). How are you finding your hope and strength in him?

Stop if you feel dizzy. When I'm dizzy, I have little to no ability to see my surroundings correctly. Something is wrong with my sense of balance. And though my surroundings haven't changed, my balance issue makes it seem as though everything is spinning or moving. In this state, it's nearly impossible to stand, let alone try to continue running.

Have you ever experienced spiritual "dizziness"? Have you ever felt as though you were groping for more balance while everything seemed to be spinning out of your control? Lack of clarity and focus will pull us down and render us ineffective. The writer of Hebrews offered this encouragement for gaining proper focus while running: "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith" (12:2). Things come into focus when we spend time with Jesus, and follow the example of his life. What are you seeing in him today?

Stop if you feel short of breath. When I think of spiritual breathing, I think Holy Spirit. And being short on the presence and leading of the Holy Spirit in my life is a sure sign that death is close at hand. Without his revival, I can count on my race coming to a quick close, whether or not I'm ready or I've finished well. Depending on the presence and filling of the Holy Spirit to propel and direct me in this race is a matter of life and death for me and those I serve.

Have you felt short of breath - short on the Holy Spirit's power? Ephesians 1:13-14 promises us that: "Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession - to the praise of his glory." As believers, we have the Holy Spirit; there's nothing else we need do to receive him. The work is in heeding him more fully, inhaling him more deeply through the Word, and running more obediently in the direction he points us.

Far from being rules that keep us out of the race, heeding these preventive warnings ensures that we'll continue running well until the very end. As we remember to read our Owner's Manual first, and pay attention to possible danger signs, we'll find ourselves victorious at the end. Run well!


Awesome post. Simple, to the point, and deep at the same time. It's so important to be in constant preperation against spiritual attacks so that we do not get "injured." Thanks for the reminder!

This is a wonderful post. it is very direct to point, and reminds believers that in as much as there is a lot of crooked and rough tracks in the race, that we must try everything within our possible best not to allow our faith to be injured.Thanks for the encouragement. Keep it up!

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