LWMS Devotion
September 2019

Left Foot, Right Foot, and Repeat! 
Running the Race

Who, me? Run a 5K? That’s 3.1 miles! Never in my wildest dreams would I ever consider myself to be an athlete after being cut from every high school and college sports team for which I’ve tried out. Over time I’ve learned that I am not an athlete. Why try? I’ll never be good enough to compete.

As life went on, God allowed me to develop other talents and guided me into a career of teaching and life as a pastor’s wife. After hearing groups of sweaty students complain after running in physical education class, I started to wonder, “Could I ever run a mile?” 

Along came a life-changing challenge—the “5K Color Dash” fundraiser for the school district’s sports booster club. This was my chance to overcome years of self-doubt. This race wasn’t timed so I couldn’t lose or be compared to other athletes. Should I try?

After encouragement from trusted co-workers, I took the challenge, laced up my sneakers, and started training. My personal goal was simply to see if I could finish running the course. The hardest part was getting started. I set simple goals, putting one foot in front of the other—left foot, right foot, and repeat—over and over again. I would run a bit, walk a bit, and run some more, gradually increasing my distance while improving my time and building stamina.

Race day finally came. I put on my race day T-shirt and joined the pack. When the race felt long, I stayed the course and didn’t give up. I kept thinking, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV). I will never forget that exhilarating feeling when crossing the finish line! I did it! While training wasn’t always easy, God provided exactly what I needed to meet my goal. Two years later, I still enjoy running. However, there are times when life gets busy and my training slips. Yet I find that exercise is energizing and it works best to maintain my training routines in order to reach my goals.

In life we all have a personal race to run, a course that God has set for each of us. Our ultimate goal is to obtain the crown of life in heaven when crossing the finish line after life on earth. Developing a training routine in the Word takes time but is worth the effort. God’s Word energizes us and strengthens our faith so we have stamina to run the distance in life and overcome any challenge that lies ahead. Through Christ we are all winners on God’s team! 

Unfortunately, life is full of distractions that can cause us to slip out of our routine of training in the Word. How soon we lose touch with our Lord and Savior. Time and again we need to assess our spiritual training. Is it time to spice it up so the Holy Spirit can strengthen our faith through the Word? It may be time to set simple, realistic goals to grow in the Word, such as: spending time in weekly worship, Sunday school, Bible classes, reading devotions, participating in online Bible studies, sharing time in the Word with your spouse or family. Or is it time to stretch and grow our faith by sharing the Word with others? Perhaps we can lead a Bible study, teach Sunday school, or take an active role in Lutheran Women’s Missionary Society. With God’s help we can do this!

Running the distance in life can be long, hard, and lonely. Yet with our focus on Jesus, we can run our race with perseverance. “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” (Isaiah 40:31). 

Through his Word, God unites us and strengthens the bond of faith with our brothers and sisters in Christ. What a blessing it is to serve together and support one another as together we run the race marked out for us! May we also encourage others including our missionaries, called workers, and fellow Christians around the world. Our prayers, cards, and words of support go a long way, especially when their race is difficult.

Regardless of where we are at on our race in life, may we always trust our training in the Word, remember why we are running, and keep our eyes focused on Jesus. There’s no need to give up. With Christ by our side, we can take one step at a time—left foot, right foot, and repeat—over and over again until we cross the finish line of life and celebrate final victory through Christ in heaven! 
    
    Run the straight race Through God’s good grace;
    Lift up your eyes and seek his face.
    Life with its way before us lies;
    Christ is the path and Christ the prize. 
        (Christian Worship #457 v.2) 
    
Dear Lord and Savior, 
We thank you for winning the crown of life through your life, death, and resurrection. May you keep us strong in the Word as we run the race you have marked for each of us. At times when we feel tired and weary, strengthen us, and keep us comforted, encouraged, and focused on you. Bless our time in the Word so that we may be energized and ready to share your Word with others. Please uplift and strengthen the faith of our called workers, missionaries, and Christians from around the world, especially when their race is difficult. May we all run with joy until we can celebrate the joys of eternal life together with you in heaven. In your name we pray. Amen.

Kristen Smith
Emmanuel Lutheran Church
Owatonna, Minnesota 

The words “left foot, right foot and repeat” appeared on a sign along a 5K race route that I ran in Owatonna, along with other motivational signs, “Trust your training!” and “Remember why you’re doing this!” While running for fitness, these words keep me focused on my spiritual race through life with Christ.