I won my first athletic meet years ago as a student athletic running the 400 meters dash. It was surreal – I felt like a champion. The problem was that with this win came increased expectation. I was immediately signed up for a conference meet in Missouri and that only a few days after my win. We got to the conference and I was settled in my lane ready to run and armed with my game plan. As the race began and I started off my block, I noticed a competitor zoom past me the way a police car will go past you on a highway. I immediately threw my game plan “into the air” and chased this competitor. I chased him until I tired out at the 200 meteres mark. I then slowed down considerably. The competitor went on to win the race but I noticed he too slowed down dramatically with 100 meters left. This is usually the point were I am at my best – with 100 meters left to go – I had nothing left at this point, I lost.
My team mate, whom we call “Superman”, a champion in his own right, pulled me aside after the race and said to me quite candidly: “Uche, that is the dumbest race I’ve ever seen. You ran his race, you did not run your own race, that is why you lost”. I thought about Superman’s comment for a moment and quickly realized he was right. I had a strategy for running that had served me so well. Start out at 100%, increase to 105%, decrease to 85% and then finish at 110%. I disregarded this strategy and chased my opponent at 100% all the way. No wonder I got tired early. No wonder I lost. Had I run my race, I believe I would have had a better chance at winning. I learned something important in that moment that I have applied to my life since. I learned to run my own race.
In a previous post, “Follow Thou me“. I mentioned how that Peter was complaining that the other disciple Jesus loved was tagging along without an invitation, to which Jesus replied:
If I will that he tarry till I come , what is that to thee? follow thou me. – John 21:22
In other words, Jesus was saying, let him run his race, its not your business. You Peter, run your own race – follow me. What is it to you that the other person is flying at a fast pace or that someone else seems to be crawling at an efficient rate. You, run your own race. Be faithful to your calling and your life work. Stick to the strategy God has given you through His Word. You may not come out first place but you will come out victorious. You will overcome. You will have accomplished all that God called you to do.