In 1996, the world witnessed the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, GA, as USA runner Michael Johnson won gold medals in the 200 and 400-meter races. As a runner, he won his medals by having two dominating performances and breaking the world records in the 200 and 400-meter races. He did not just have an attitude of a runner who wanted to compete in the Olympics but he had the mindset of a World champion. He demonstrated this confidence and attitude on the track through his determination in wanting to be the very best. He also demonstrated his attitude of a champion by wearing gold running shoes in each of his races in the Atlanta Olympics. He stayed in his lane, he carried out his plan and he finished his race. He proved to all of the world’s best runners that he was the most dominating track and field runner in the sport. Now when we the world looks back on some of the greatest Summer Olympics moment in history, there is an image of Michael Johnson posing with the American flag draped around him on the track. He stood on the podium celebrating his victory wearing his gold shoes and his gold medals as of world track and field champion.
A runner who competes in the track and field championship has to train for several long hours during a day. He has to work on his conditioning, his strength and to build on their stamina. A runner depending on the type of track and field event that they want to specialize in has to work on their technique and speed. A track and field runner may run in the 100, 200 and 400-meter races that a runner compete in to be a champion. He may also compete in these sprints on local, state and regional level. However, two of the biggest stages that track and field runners compete in are the World Track and Field Championship and the Summer Olympics which happen every four years. Now there are three important lessons that I would like to share on why we as men must stay in our own lanes. Now the first lesson that we can learn as men from a runner who competes in track and field is that we have to learn how to stay in our lanes. The second lesson that we can learn from the world of track and field is that we must lay aside our weights and sins that would keep us from running our race. Finally, a third lesson that we can learn from the world of track and field running is that we as men must learn to finish our race.
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Stay In Your Lane
The first lesson that we can learn as men from a runner who competes in track and field is that we have to learn how to stay in our lanes. In 1 Corinthians 9:24, the word of God says “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”. When a runner competes in his race against his competitors, he must stay in his lane and run with the expectation of winning the race. If he allows himself to become distracted by comparing himself to how much better he may think his competitors maybe, his attitude will put himself at a psychological disadvantage. Whatever past accomplishments his competitors may bring into race must not be a source of intimidation to him. Whatever past setbacks that the runner may have experience cannot a distraction for him but the competitive fire to fuel him that he will win his race. As men of God to be able to stay in our lanes and run our race we must do two important things. We must first keep our eyes on Jesus who is “the author and finisher of our faith. We must also not be unwise by comparing ourselves to others by thinking that the Lord has gifted and equipped them with more ability than what we have.
The comparison game is a very dangerous game that we cannot afford to play. The Lord has called each of us to make Jesus the center of our lives. He has also fearfully and wonderfully made us in his image and called us to accomplish things that we are to do because it is a part our DNA (Psalms 139:14). What we cannot do is men is fall into the trap of comparing ourselves into thinking that the next man has better than we do. Do you remember when Israel had come back from battle and David had slayed Goliath with a rock and a slingshot (1 Samuel 17:48-51)? After David had cut off Goliath head with his own sword, the women, later on, were singing and dancing that “Saul had killed his thousands but David had killed his ten thousands”. The word of God declared when Saul heard what the women were singing about David that he became very angry and began putting his focus on David (1 Samuel 18:5-9). Who are you comparing yourself secretly in your heart my brother? The Lord wants me to encourage you to put your focus on him and not others, put your focus on him and not own your shortcomings. The Lord wants you man of God to stay in your lane, keep your eyes on Jesus and run your race.
Lay aside your weights and sins
The second lesson that we can learn from the world of track and field is that we must lay aside our weights and sin that keep us from running our race. When a runner trains he looks to eliminate anything that he feels that would be a weight to holding him back from him giving his very best. That weight could be physical, mental or emotional which if allowed to remain will only slow the runner down and cause him not be in competitive shape. As men of God there are some weights in our lives that can either be spiritual, emotional or mental or physical in our lives. Not only does the word of God speaks about us laying aside as weight but also to lay a slide every sin which could ensnare us. I know most churches don’t like preaching on or against sin but it will fail to deal with it based upon what the word of God says it will be a snare to us and our relationship with God. I know most people want to categorize sin as what they believe what is a big sin or what they consider little sin, however, there is no small or big sin because sin is still sin in the eyes of the Lord. In Romans 3:23 the word of God says “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”.
As men, there are some weights and sins that we need to lay aside so that will help us to stay in our lanes and run our race. We have to lay aside the weight of procrastination which some of us allow it rob us of the opportunities that the Lord wants to bless us with but we put things off when He is prompting us to move now. We have to aside the weight of regret which find ourselves wrestling with alone with no one else is around because we regret some of the things we have done and the mistakes that we have made. However, no matter what we may have done, God’s mercy and forgiveness is much great and can free us from the torment of regret. We have to lay aside of the sins that we privately struggle in the dark rather they are sins of the flesh or the sins of the spirit. Not only do we have to lay down the bottle and the needle but we also have to lay aside the uncontrolled anger and the unhealthy passion of lust. In 2 Corinthians 7:1 the word of God says “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God”. As we run this race with patience our goal is to key our focus on Jesus because He has given us joy and also a joy that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Finish Your Race
Finally, a third lesson that we can learn from the world of track and field running is that we as men must learn to finish our race. During the 100, 200, or 400-meter races, every runner competes as hard as they can to be the one who crosses the finish line first. The runners get onto their marks, they must get around their turns, and then it is a full sprint down the straightaway. However, we have also, seem highlights on television when a runner has to stumble and fell during the race. There have been some runners who had fallen who were not able to finish the race but instead were carried off the track. On the other hand, there have been highlights of runners who had fallen during the race but they were still able to finish. When a runner has fallen the focus of the race then shift from the ones in front to the person has fallen and is on the ground. It is at that moment that either the runner’s close friend, a family member, or even another runner comes alongside to help the fallen runner to get back up and to keeping running. Though the fallen runner may no longer be able to be the winner of the race what still matters to him is that he now has the help needed to cross the finish line.
In Ecclesiastes 9:11 the word of God says that “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong”, but to the one who endures to the end. My brother, God has given you grace so that you can finish your race. The Lord did not just wake you so that you can have a job or to have a profession to make a living. However, the Lord what you up because you are His masterpiece and He has a calling on your life. If you stumble and fall, He has given you the grace to get back up and to keep on running. Yes, our race in this life is not a sprint but it is a marathon that we have the endurance to get to the end. However, the Lord has equipped us and strengthen us as men of God to have the stamina of a runner who can run the 100, 200 and 400-meter races. We have the grace to finish our race and to get through all the turns that come our way. If we or another brother has stumble and fell, we have the Holy Spirit to help us to get back up and to continue our race and not give up. Not only do we have the Holy Spirit but we have our brothers in Christ who are running in their own lanes, ready to help the next man cross the finish line together. The word of God says in Romans 15:1 that “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves”.