On the track, the popularity and usage of this verse is equivalent to that of Philippians 4:13. To me, it's overused and placed in the wrong context, so it's never been one of those key verses I keep in the back of my mind. I've also had trouble understanding what "race" God is talking about, but He made everything clear to me this morning in church.
By "us", God is pointing to each of us in His kingdom as individuals. Read it as though God is talking to YOU - not "us", not your bible study, not your family. Just you. Run the race God has set for ME. Okay, but what race? In Jeremiah 29:11, God assures us that He has a plan for our lives, and that plan is this race He's referring to in Hebrews.
I'll be the first to admit that finding community in Christ was not only the highlight of my freshman year, but also the very blessing that equipped me with everything and more I needed to thrive. BUT alone time, quiet time, one-on-one time with God is absolutely essential. Establishing, maintaining, and prioritizing that relationship first is the foundation for eternal life with Him - it's the beginning of the race and the endorphins that fuel endurance throughout.
When the pastor dove deeper into this verse, God reminded me of habits like comparison, jealousy, and pride.... yeah, guilty. They seem almost impossible to avoid - magazines practically advertise the powers of photoshop more than clothing, cars, homes, etc., and the constant encouragement to buy more, do more, be more doesn't leave us alone. While giving in to those habits is easy, it's also like trying to run another person's race, and no matter how hard we push or how fast we run, we can't win someone else's race.
God has already written my story and your story - He did so even before we were born - and He wants us to spend our lives with Him, reading that story. Be the main character; embrace every personality, every beauty mark, every imperfection - God smiles when we thank Him like that.
I haven't been able to think about much else besides this topic today (except the fries I'm baking right now - I hope heaven smells like this), and I can hear God whispering to me about how it applies to my eating habits. Lately, I've bee fascinated by veganism and experimenting with it. Eating purely fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts/beans/seeds seems to bring so much energy to those who adopt that lifestyle. If hundreds of other people love it, and I already eat similarly, why wouldn't I love it, too?
Long story and lots of descriptive bodily functions short, it hasn't been working. I'm constantly hungry, tired in the afternoon, and bloated all day. No matter what any Insta-famous vegan says, the amount of sugar I feed my body in eating that much fruit just doesn't seem quite right. Oh, and, um, Greek yogurt? My bestie. Avocado + toast + fried egg = my favorite math equation.
That's just me - those are some of the qualities God blessed me with. I love animals and I will never put animal flesh in my mouth again, but I don't think I was designed for a completely vegan diet. I feel energized, hydrated, satisfied, and healthy on a simple vegetarian diet. Whatever works for the HCLF vegans works for them, but not all of it works for me.
However, comparison, a little jealousy, and selfish pride still get the best of me. Sometimes I wish I could eat eight bowls of banana "ice cream", a farm-full of sweet potatoes, and bread to feed the 5,000, too. I long for the clear skin associated with veganism, and I cheer (sometimes rather loudly) for myself when I see ten new followers on my Instagram profile, but those concerns only slow me down in my race. Constantly craning my neck to check the pace of runners behind me or next to me pushes me farther behind.
Replace those thoughts with gratitude, with a little self-love and positivity. Respect yourself and appreciate and embrace your character in God's story for you. Run your race to see Him at the finish line. As with all marathons, your muscles will ache, your throat will burn, and your mind might let some discouragement in every once in a while, but God's words are here to rejuvenate you every single day. He wants nothing more than to help you run your best race ever.
God's pretty cool, huh?