Awe and wonder motivate you to keep running the race of faith. When you encounter wonder and feel awe, your perspective changes so you can see beyond your circumstances to the hope God offers you in any situation.
This month, I’ve been thinking a lot about races, because I’m serving on the communications and marketing team for a 5K at George Mason University later this month. Our event, the Mason Nation Thriving Together 5K, promotes well-being. Participants strengthen their physical well-being by running or walking, and proceeds from fees and donations support our university’s counseling fund to help students access mental health care. Just as races are good for physical and mental well-being, they are also beneficial for spiritual well-being because they highlight the importance of overall strength. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 describes our lifelong race of faith in terms of a race: “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. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” Hebrews 12:1-2 encourages us: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…”.
Sometimes, we celebrate victories, and at other times we suffer defeats as we journey through our own lives. No matter what, God is with us, cheering us on – and so are other praying people. You can celebrate your victories with joy because God celebrates with you. As Zephaniah 3:17 says: “For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” When you’ve been defeated, you can be confident that you still have a hopeful future from God. Jeremiah 29:11 declares: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’”
God is your source of strength in the race. He promises in Isaiah 41:10: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Anytime you’re able to be fully present in each moment – a skill that athletes often practice – that will also help you notice the wonder of God’s presence with you. Focusing fully on each moment is something you can train yourself to do more, just like athletes do. In Wake Up to Wonder, I describe research that shows how athletic experiences and spiritual experiences alike can cause people to feel awe that gives them a sense of timelessness in the present moment.
Whenever you need renewed strength during your race of faith, you can find it from God: Isaiah 40:29-31 promises: “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Jesus also encourages you in Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Experiencing wonder inspires you to reach out to God for help during the race, since wonder gives you glimpses of God’s power along your journey.
This month, no matter where your race path takes you, be on the lookout for wonder to strengthen your faith!