“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Corinthians 9.24-25 NIV).
During my sophomore year of high school, I ran track. Sadly, my new school didn’t offer the sports I was good at (softball and volleyball), so I decided to kick my running legs into high gear. I grabbed my running shoes, and hit the red-graveled track of my school.
Little did I know, however, that I didn’t have running shoes. I had street shoes. I wasn’t aware of this difference, so I ran my little heart out in those white, flat-soled shoes. I was fairly fast, and I could keep a quick pace for a good distance, so coach had me run the mile relay (once around the track), the 400 (once around the track) and the 800 (twice around the track).
Before my first track meet, my mother offered to help buy me new shoes. I paid half and she paid half. I was shocked at how expensive running shoes were, and I wondered if they were worth emptying my pockets for. My last practice before our first competition, the coach had us run a mile to warm up. I flew past everyone and hit my fastest time running the mile. I was shocked. I wasn’t even trying to race!
As I ran, I couldn’t help imagine that I was a long-legged rabbit, jumping from one pillowy cloud to the next. With every step, I felt my feet fly into the air, like I was wearing springs. I was amazed at what a difference a pair of shoes could make. I must have looked crazy to everyone because I was running with a big smile on my face. Two months of running with street shoes made running with real running shoes feel like a walk in the park!
The Bible compares our walk of faith to race (2 Timothy 4.7). It also tells us that we should put on the shoes of the Gospel of Peace (Ephesians 6.15). So I’ve decided that if I’m going to be running this race for Christ, I want the right shoes on! The Shoes of Peace are not to benefit the onlookers; they are to benefit us, the runners! When people see us flying by them with big, goofy smiles on our faces, they are going to take notice and wonder what makes us so different. The answer is JESUS and His Good News, the Gospel!
Street shoes represent running in our own strength and running for our own reasons. Yes, we can still run fast. Yes, we still can be productive. But we won’t have the abundant peace that comes from resting in God’s strength and knowing that we are fulfilling our God-given destiny! We won’t have the spring in our step that comes from the FREE and extra-cushy running shoes that Jesus Himself has purchased for us. Jesus gave His life for us so we could run this race for Him, and we can’t squander this gift by ignoring the peace, joy, hope and strength that is found in the Gospel!
So don’t try to run this race bare foot—without the Good News of eternal purpose and meaning. Remember that you are not alone. You are not forgotten. There is a reason for this life. God has great plans for you. We are saved from hopelessness and eternal separation from God. We are forgiven from every sin. We have so much to celebrate and to be thankful for. Every promise is assured in Christ, and the bumps along the way won’t even touch us. We are prepared with our Gospel Shoes, and we will run this race to win the honor of pleasing the King. When everything is said and done, we will be a crown of beauty in God’s hand (Isaiah 62.3).
“And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6.15 AMP).