Determine Your Purpose - The Runner's Devotional

Determine Your Purpose

Imagine packing your suitcase, loading the car, and filling your car with gas. Excited for your vacation, you hit the road. But after a few miles, you realize that you have no idea where you are headed. Will you get anywhere? Doubtful. Because you don’t have a destination in mind, you will probably just drive in circles.

Often we treat faith the same way. We read the Bible, go to church, and volunteer, but we still feel as if we are just going in circles. Those activities are good and important, but unless we have a good reason for doing them—a desired destination—we won’t make much progress in the Christian journey. When giving instructions to his young pastor friend, Paul told Timothy that he needed to run his “race” with purpose: “But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11).

Because Timothy’s purpose was to glorify God with his life, he should run from evil and toward God. Our purpose is the same.

The Runner

I never thought I would become a runner. Running was not in my vocabulary. I preferred to walk, ride, or drive to my destination. Instead of playing a sport, I enjoyed sitting on the stands watching the game. Running? For exercise? Never crossed my mind.

And losing weight wasn’t an issue for me. I wasn’t super skinny, but eating healthy allowed me to stay pretty trim. Running to lose weight? I guess I just never really saw the need for it.

Then something changed.

Recently, in my neighborhood Bible study, we started looking at all the times the Bible used the words run or running. In Luke 15:11-32, we read about the father running to his prodigal son and discussed what it meant in that culture for a father to run. We read Hebrews 12 and the verses about running the race God has set before us. We also read passages in 1 Timothy and elsewhere that speak about running away from evil.

I wanted to truly understand the meaning of these passages. I was intrigued by all the references to running and wanted to know what it felt like to run—how it challenges, energizes, and develops discipline. Did I really understand what running from evil meant?

Some friends had mentioned that during their runs they would pray and commune with God. At those times of activity and isolation, they could forget their daily stresses and pressures and focus on God.

So I began to run with that purpose. It wasn’t easy, but I kept at it and continue because I run to stay close to God, to glorify him.

The Race

Did you notice that Paul used the word run? Not walk or saunter but run: move quickly, energetically, and with purpose. What was that purpose? To get away from evil as fast as possible so it wouldn’t cause him (and Timothy) to wander off God’s path. Paul was not just running from something, of course; he also was running toward something—a godly life of “faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.”

More than motivating us or keeping us from wandering, having a purpose also moves us toward our ultimate destination. A purpose helps us to work through the hard times, to persevere. We learn to trust in God and to believe that we can change our lives—physically or spiritually. And as we focus on our ultimate life purpose of glorifying God, we will be able to fully love and care for the people in our lives.

Paul’s letter to Timothy continues: “Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12). As we run toward a life of godliness, we stay on track by focusing on our faith and what we believe. If we continue to “run,” “pursue,” “fight,” and “hold tightly,” we will move forward along the path of righteousness and not wander into sin.

The Result

What is your purpose for running? God calls us to run away from sin and toward a life filled with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Are you running in circles, or are you running toward God and his plan for you? From what sin do you need to run away? Leaving sin isn’t easy, but we must choose to obey with courage and do what is right so that we may glorify God in all that we do. Get off the sidelines and have an active faith.

My Story

I had never been the active type, but I started jogging in college as a way to stay in shape. Since then, God has transformed my runs into times of worship and conversation with him. As soon as my shoes hit the asphalt, he invites me to this place for only me and him. Something about feeling tired and weak makes it easy to depend on God’s strength. Sometimes I come back from a run in tears because somewhere in between the sweating and aching, God broke my heart for lives with needs bigger than my own. For me, running is good for my body but necessary for my soul.


Think It Through

1. When did you begin running? What got you started?

2. At what times in your running routines do you feel close to God?

3. When has running been a “spiritual experience” for you? What makes it so?

4. What’s the difference between “walking” and “running” in your Christian life?

On Running

Does my body type affect my running success?

You can’t change your morphology (body build) through exercise and training. Your body composition (the percentage of fat and muscle), however, can change significantly. How does this relate to running success? Well, yes, your body type will affect how effectively you run, but as you run and your body composition changes, your running success will increase.

From the Book:

The Runner's Devotional cover image

The Runner's Devotional
By Dana Niesluchowski and David R. Veerman

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