This past weekend I traveled back up to Leadville for another race. The trail marathon at Leadville takes runners over 26 miles of some of the most beautiful and challenging terrain one can imagine. The old mining town based at 10,000 feet above sea level hosts some of the world’s best athletes each summer for their race series.
One thing I love about trail racing is the eclectic cast of runners at the races. You will see everything from the Boston-marathon looking runners in short shorts to the bearded Forest Gump-looking barefoot runners. It’s a great mix of people all there for one goal, and that is to hopefully cross the finish line. Close to 6,000 feet of vertical climbing and a trip up the 13,000 foot summit of Mosquito Pass makes it a daunting challenge.
As I was lined up at the start line looking at all the other athletes, I kept coming back to the idea of ‘identity’. All the runners were unique, yet we were all runners.
I had the pleasure of attending a small group bible study last week that a friend of mine hosts at his office. The topic of the week was ‘identity’ and the identity we have in Christ. While we are all unique as believers, we have a new identity in Christ that binds us all together. The key is for us to start living out that identity and believing it.
For the longest time, I didn’t consider myself a true athlete even with all the races I did. Even though I trained, studied and put in the work, I didn’t think I was qualified to be called an ‘athlete’ because I was finishing races outside of the top 10, or because I didn’t train as hard as the pros. I was in the car several weeks ago, and I was talking to my wife about how I was more of a ‘hobbiest’ than an ‘athlete’ and she called me out. “You are one heck of an athlete, babe. You are pretty amazing at your sports. Don’t sell yourself short.”
Lining up at the start line in Leadville, I had the realization that I was indeed an athlete. I also started to think about my identity as a Christian. I am hardly qualified half of the time to take on that identity, and I feel pretty imperfect most of the time. I don’t train as hard as I should, there are others faster and more knowledgeable than me, and I go through seasons of doubt. This is the amazing news though- Grace. It’s not about how hard I work, or how perfect or imperfect I am. All I have to do is just admit the fact that I can’t do it on my own and I need Him.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.“- Ephesians 2:8-9
As believers, we are all athletes in this race together. We all have all prepared for the race a little differently, but we are here to encourage each other, share some training tips and pick each other up when we fall down. Hopefully, we can all finish the race strong. It is time to embrace our identity and start living it.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24