The runners in a marathon must all follow a clearly marked course. Suppose one of the athletes decides to pick his own path. He keeps to the 26-mile race standard and sets his finish line in the same spot as the official one, but he runs through neighborhoods with fewer hills and across less crowded parks. His plan seems excellent to him, but when he crosses the finish line, there will be no medal or ribbon waiting.
What a silly thing for a person to do! Yet, believers fall into this very trap when they decide the course for their life instead of running the race God sets. By submitting to His will—doing what He says and going where He leads—we remain on the right path. But the moment we revert to our old habits and start making decisions based on our own wisdom, we go far afield.
For believers, the finish line is the same whether they run the race God's way or their own way—namely, heaven. However, the difference is what we have to show for all the energy expended getting there. No one wants to look back and say, "I didn't really accomplish anything of value." Regardless of how grand a legacy someone leaves, the only truly lasting and worthwhile deeds are those done for the Lord and in the power of His Spirit.
Thankfully, no matter how far off course we veer, the Holy Spirit is still present. He reminds us of the right path—as well as the power available to get back on it and persevere. Your route is set; your choice clear. Run the race set before you and finish well (Acts 20:24).
For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit www.intouch.org.
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Used with permission from In Touch Ministries, Inc. © 2009 All Rights Reserved.