I used to run Cross Country in High School and I hated it. I was more sore from the running than I was when I played football. I also figured that God had granted me a certain number of heart beats and why pound them out in aimless running. It has become a big deal in the lives of a lot of folks and some from up here even travel to Fargo and Minneapolis to run. I asked one of them why they drove down to run when they could have run down to run but they didn’t think I was funny.
The New Testament is replete with images of the Christian life being a race. Paul uses the image many times and Luther picked up on Paul’s question to the Galatians – “you were running well, who got in your way?” Luther picked up on it too.
“But the words “You were running well” contain comfort. For with these words Paul pays attention to the trial by which the devout are disciplined; to themselves their life seems dreary, closer to crawling than to running. But when there is sound teaching-which cannot be without results, since it brings the Holy Spirit and His gifts-the life of the devout is strenuous running, even though it may seem to be crawling. To us, of course, it seems that everything is moving ahead slowly and with great difficulty; but what seems slow to us is rapid in the sight of God, and what hardly crawls for us runs swiftly for Him. Likewise, what is sorrow, sin, and death in our eyes is joy, righteousness, and life in the eyes of God, for the sake of Christ, through whom we are made perfect. Christ is holy, righteous, joyful, etc., and there is nothing that He lacks; thus there is nothing that believers in Him lack either. Therefore Christians are really runners; whatever they do runs along and moves forward successfully, being advanced by the Spirit of Christ, who has nothing to do with slow enterprises.” Luther Commentary of Galatians