Enough warm-ups already!

Among those arriving to the stadium early were two old timers: a husband and wife who always attended these events, and who were former runners themselves. In fact, they were world-class champions whose races were the stuff of legends. They could recount, if they chose to do so, tales of close races, humiliating defeats, and former glory.

Their conversation, however, centered around the newest runners, a brother and sister. This was to be their big day, the opportunity of a lifetime.

“There they are, warming up,” the old man told his wife. “They look healthy enough. Do you remember how anxious I was when I was out there?” She nodded and patted him on the arm. “Their turn now,” she said, giving him a warm smile.

As the stadium filled up, the runners made their way onto the track. They were stretching, jogging, or taking off their sweats. Officials were busy checking schedules or inspecting starting blocks.

“What’s happening?” the old champ asked. “Why isn’t she lining up with the other women?”

“I don’t know,” said his wife. “Maybe it’s not her heat.” She looked again at the program, which listed only one race for women, one for men. The center of their attention continued to stretch and to exercise on the sidelines, even as the other women poised for the race to begin.

“BANG!” The rest exploded from the blocks, but she took no notice, continuing to stretch, losing by default. Minutes later the old couple saw their hero male runner do exactly the same thing. It was frustrating and bewildering for Abraham and Sarah to watch, as well as for the other hall-of-famers: David and Deborah, Gideon and Moses, and Rahab. Why didn’t they run? You can’t win if you don’t run.

The author of Hebrews lists for us runners the olympians in the audience, every one of them rooting for us. It’s time we got out on the track, the race is about to begin. It’s time to shed our warm-up suits and take our places at the blocks.

It’s our race now, and our coach assures us of victory. But we actually have to run the race. You can warm up only so long. Then you must run! “Let us run with patience the race marked out before us, looking to Jesus…” (Heb. 12:1-2).

—Steve Singleton