November 20, 2008

The Race of Faith and the Scenery of God's Grace 
by Mike Pohlman, Editor, Christianity.com

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 
1 corinthians 9:24

The only thing keeping my feet moving was the scenery. As I ran through my new city of Richmond, Virginia what I lacked in energy I made up for in curiosity. What scenic treasures awaited me along my route?

I stumbled upon the historic “Canal Walk”—a partial restoration of Richmond’s historic canal system begun in 1785 and completed in 1840. Various monuments along the way tell the story. It is billed as “George Washington’s vision come to life.” Before the railroad made the canals basically obsolete in the 1880s (at which time they stretched 197 miles as far as Lynchburg), the waterways teemed with hundreds of boats carrying various goods such as tobacco and wheat along with many passengers.  

Once there I remembered a gentleman talking about Belle Island and a 1.5 mile trail that loops through the 54 acre park that once housed a Civil War prison camp for Union soldiers. My pace picked up as I became excited about the destination. Along the nearly two mile journey I was pleasantly distracted by The American Civil War Center, the James River with its roaring rapids and the massive Robert E. Lee Bridge straddling the shores.   

I was reminded anew how much easier runs are when you’re excited about the scenery. The legs don’t hurt as much, breathing isn’t as difficult and the pace actually quickens. More than just “getting the miles in,” you feel exhilaration in the exercise.

As I exited the pedestrian bridge onto Belle Island my thoughts moved to how the Christian life is like a run. It requires endurance, perseverance, diligent effort. And just as the scenery on a run helps one endure, the “scenery” of God’s grace helps weary saints persevere in their faith.

Do I see it? Is it new everyday? Does it excite me? Move me? Leave me in awe?

I was challenged to behold the beauty of Jesus’ blood shed for me; the awesome power of His resurrection that conquered death; His unwavering advocacy on my behalf before the Father; the treasure of His perfect righteousness imputed to me. In a word, the cross and all it accomplished and represents for those who trust in Him. This, at least in part, is the glorious “scenery” of God’s grace that helps fuel our run of faith.

Intersecting Faith & Life: I want to run in such a way as to win the prize—to hear my Lord say, “Well done good and faithful servant … Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:23). To get to that finish line, I pray that God grants me eyes to see the wonders of His grace in Christ Jesus—scenery worthy of our eternal gaze.