The horse lost the race and the runner was freed, proving that a good runner could beat a horse in a long race, such as a marathon.
Paul talked about running a race — comparatively in the spiritual sense — in 1 Corinthians 9:24: “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” He goes on to say, “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air ...”
The writer of Hebrews agrees. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
We are all in a “long” race. To finish the race, it will take being patient, being certain and being temperate in all things.
Some may start out with a burst of energy which dissipates quickly and leaves the runner gasping for breath as he looks for a place to collapse. Others may start more slowly and hope for a second wind as they tire. Then there are those who are consistent and patient. They have a vision of the race’s end and it keeps them going, no matter what. The “crown” awaits the faithful — those who finish the race.
As the end of Paul’s life neared, he told Timothy, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” (2 Timothy 4:7).
Since Paul’s conversion, he had lived with no regrets. He didn’t have to stop and ask, “What should I do now?” because he continued in the faith, as a follower of Christ doing the will of the Father. He made no plans of his own, but lived according to the commandments of the Lord.
And God supplied his needs. Probably, there were times he had to make tents or depend on the churches to help him get to the next place, but nothing hindered his mission. He was “running for his life.”
My dad was much like Paul. I recall when my family did evangelistic work across the United States — from North Carolina to California. When the churches could not help us get to the next place, Dad would sell light bulbs from house to house to buy gas for that 1951 Pontiac to pull a house trailer.
I remember one time we had just driven through the desert and the trailer had a blowout right in front of a service station. A Tennessee man sent us the money for a tire and we continued on our journey. So many times, we’d head out on faith, but God always supplied our needs. And when we got to the next place, another brother bought two new tires for the car.
I learned that vision comes from faith in God, faith generates patience and patience brings fulfillment. I heard Dad tell my great-grandmother once — in one of their many discussions — “If God told me to run toward a brick wall, when I got there, He would either lift me over it or make an opening through it, so I would run.”
God told Joshua in 1:9, “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”