Last weekend, my cousin and I ran the Tough Mudder race in Sedalia, Missouri. (I know, I know…I run a daycare all week, and then run in the mud on the weekend. What can I say? I love keeping fit, and I love a challenge. Tough Mudder fits the bill!)
The course was 11 miles long, with plenty of obstacles along the way. Obstacles with cool and intimidating names of course–Block Ness Monster, Mount Everest 2.0, Mud Mile, and Berlin Walls. (Because we all know obstacles are much harder to overcome when they have awesome names. Just ask my sons.)
The race wasn’t easy. The mud was slick, the water was cold, and the walls were tall–especially for me, at my full height of 5 feet, 3 inches. We crawled through mud, under nets and wires, and across bars suspended over the water.
As we completed the course, I was struck by how much the Christian life is like the race we were running. The Bible tells us to “run with patience the race that is set before us.” With that in mind, let’s look at three things we can learn from Tough Mudder 2017. (Don’t worry, you don’t have to actually participate in a mud run to learn from it!)
1. Like a race, the Christian life requires training and discipline.
“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1
In the months leading up to the race, I jogged 4-6 miles, three times a week to prepare. I lifted weights five days a week to strengthen my arms. (Okay…confession…I carried babies and toddlers around all day. That’s almost the same, right?) The point is, I would not have made it very far without regularly training for the race.
My goals for this year’s Tough Mudder were to be able to jog the whole distance (although there’s certainly nothing wrong with walking it; there were some amazing people out there who refused to quit, no matter how tired they were!), and to complete all the obstacles. If I hadn’t put in the miles before the race, I wouldn’t have achieved these goals. Training was imperative to my success.
God never promised the Christian life would be easy. What He did promise was His Spirit to guide you, His strength to uphold you, and His love to enfold you. But these things don’t just magically appear in your life. It takes discipline, specifically the discipline of digging deep into the Word of God and getting on your knees before Him every day. If you want to run the race of life for the glory of God, you must spend time with Him daily.
2. Like the Tough Mudder race, you cannot live the Christian life alone.
“Two are better than one…for if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Most of the obstacles in Tough Mudder are designed so that you cannot conquer them on your own. Take the Block Ness Monster, for instance. It’s a series of huge rotating blocks built in chest-deep water. The only way over them is to jump up, grab hold, and hang on while your teammates rotate the blocks. You simply cannot get to the other side without others supporting your weight and turning the blocks.
And then there is Mount Everest 2.0, one of my favorite obstacles. It’s a huge, sloped wall that you run up, and the people at the top grab your arms and pull you over. If you’re tall (I’m not!) or really strong (again, not me), you can make it up and over the wall on your own. Thankfully, I recruited my cousin, Teddy, to help me. At 6′ 6″, 230 lbs, I figured he could just throw me over the walls I couldn’t climb! If it wasn’t for his help, I would not have been able to complete Tough Mudder.
So it is with our lives as Christians. Life is tough; God never meant for you do it alone. You need strong Christians surrounding you. Friends who will keep you accountable if you slip into sin. Fellow-soldiers who have your back as you battle the evils of this world. Brothers and sisters in Christ who won’t let you quit, no matter how tired you are.
If you want to run the race of life well, you can’t run it alone.
3. Like the Tough Mudder race, you will receive a reward if you press on and refuse to quit.
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9
Now, I know the reward for Tough Mudder isn’t all that amazing…for months of training, and hours of slogging it out on the course, we got a t-shirt and a bright orange head-band. (Yep, that was worth the effort!)
However, the reward for completing the race of life well? For standing strong for Christ? For spreading the good news of His grace to the world? For bearing up under persecution? For loving Jesus with every breath you take? For praising God in the good times and the bad?
How about having Almighty God, the Creator of the universe, the Alpha and Omega, the King of kings and Lord of lords look at you with eyes full of love and speak these words:
“Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Now there is a reward worth running for.