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Running to Win


Gwen Smith

May 19, 2015

Blog, Christian Living, Devotions, Forgiveness

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Run to win

The year was 2008. The race started out like any other race: runners at the starting line, fans in the stands, excitement and anticipation thick in the air. But this race was a big one. An indoor track and field conference championship for the collegiate women’s 600 meter run.

At the sound of the gun, the runners took off – each with a heart longing to win the race – each competing fiercely for the prize. Just three quick laps stood between the four athletes and their destinies. It was clear from the beginning, this race would be tight.

My family and I watched on an internet video as the long and lean runners vied for the lead. In unison, we gasped with horror when, as they began the final lap, one of the competitors caught the slightest edge of another runner’s shoe and went crashing down onto the track. My heart sunk when she fell. I didn’t know this fallen woman, but I do know what it feels like to fall and to have your hopes dissolve in a split second. I felt the despair of the crash with her.

The fans in the crowd all stood to their feet and rallied cries of encouragement to this young runner. The seconds that followed will be etched into my heart and mind forever. She could’ve walked off the track and everyone would’ve understood. She could’ve thrown in the towel and quit the race in humiliation and defeat. But she didn’t quit. She got up and kept running. Now a full quarter-lap behind the other runners, this athlete fixed her eyes on the track before her and ran like the wind.

With just half a lap to go, this determined young woman overtook third place. Unbelievable. The crowd swelled with amazement. Then, just a hundred yards before the finish line, she inched up to the other two runners and – at the tape – leaned forward to win the race! No. Stinkin’. Way. The crowd went wild. My family went wild. What a race! What a fall! What a recovery! What a victory!

The next day, as I took my teenaged son to school, he and I had trouble connecting. I was frustrated with him; he was frustrated with me, and what I’d hoped would be a warm send off to a great day became an icy goodbye as he got out of the car. I felt like a loser-mom and lamented to God about it on the drive home. As I poured out my frustrations in prayer, the Lord reminded me of the race.

Like the young runner, I got tripped up on the shoes of another and fell down mid-race. Now, I had a choice. I could stew and lick my mama-wounds, allowing the disappointments to keep me from running, or I could call on the grace of the Lord, put one foot in front of another, and get back in the race. The writer of Hebrews talks about a cloud of witnesses that encourages others in faith, and as I prayed I could almost hear them cheering me on.

“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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Game. On.

I got back up. I chose to run again by asking the Lord for the grace and strength to finish the day strong in Him. By the time my son got home from school we had both cooled down. Grace ran before us. I asked him to forgive me for frustrating him and he did the same.

Run in Your mercy strength

We all run. We all fall. Each day presents us with fresh opportunities to allow the mercy, strength and grace of God to intervene in our lives. When writing to the church of Philippi about the discipline of perseverance, the apostle Paul said this:

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. (Philippians 3:10-16)

So whatever you face today, friend, run. Run to win the prize. Run like the wind. And when you fall; don’t throw in the towel, don’t point fingers, don’t stew, and don’t quit. Get right back up and run again… in the mercy, strength and grace of God.


Dear Lord, Thanks for being a God of second chances and eternal grace! Please help me to run in your mercy and strength today. In Jesus’ name, amen.


Thanks for doing life with me,


READ and REFLECT: Grab your Bible and read the book of Philippians today. It’s only four chapters long. You can do it! It will bless your socks off! If you don’t have time to read the whole thing right now, then read a chapter a day for the next four days.

RESPOND: Will you commit to reading the book of Philippians? Leave a comment below declaring, “I’m in for the Bible challenge!” or letting us know how today’s post challenged or encouraged you.

Need help getting back in the race?
Turn up your speakers and allow the lyric in this song, Uncluttered, to be your prayer right now…


PS: If you enjoyed this devotion, subscribe to my blog…

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About Gwen Smith

Gwen Smith

I am an unashamed, imperfect worshiper of Jesus Christ. I cling to His goodness to cover my mess and purpose my days to live out the hope of the Gospel. It is my joy and passion to inspire women to live fully in grace and truth. I write books, devotions and songs. I speak. I sing. I worship. I post, pin and tweet. I am intensely in love with the Word of God and believe, wholeheartedly, that the Bible is divinely inspired truth.


22 responses to “Running to Win”

  1. Robin Michelle Lemon says:

    Its helping me to push pass having a pitty party. Im in with bible challenge.

  2. Rebecca says:

    Thank you so much, Gwen. I need this message so much. I have been getting bogged down lately with all my shortcomings and mess-ups. I needed to be reminded that I serve a great and awesome God who will not only pick me back up again and again, but He will also give me the strength and courage to keep running.

  3. Kim Howlin says:

    Gwen, THANK YOU for this devotion! This homeschooling/reclassing year has been wrought with challenges I could have never imagined. My relationship with my son has been broken, battered, and repaired over and over as we have both struggled with our anxieties about the long term affects of this one decision. It is though the grace of God alone we are nearing the finish line of our race and your inspired words feel like the push to the finish line I have been desperately praying for. It is a blessing to know you and to share in your walk.

  4. Tiffany says:

    Good Morning! I just want to say THANKS for this message, it is truly “RIGHT ON TIME”! This morning has started off rough with a similar situation with my daughter and I. But I thank GOD that his mercy endures FOREVER! This message is a reminder of how much GOD LOVES me and that HE is mindful of my every need… Truly this message along with the other daily devotionals has been a tremendous blessing in my life! Thanks for being consistent by sharing this encouraging words each and everyday! Thanks for doing life with me! God Bless you and your family in Jesus Name!

  5. Edith says:

    it might have taken me time to read this but i thankyou Gwen for reminding me to run and focus on the price…yes ill stand up and run again ill be up again and focus on the price,,i can even hear the angels cheering me on now…thankyou Gwen..God bless you..

  6. Dawn Scott Jones says:

    I subscribe to Girlfriends and love it. An author myself, I sometimes read,skim for other purposes than personal fulfillment. But your writing inspires me–more specifically, your message and your connection with Jesus, minister to me. I get absorbed and for a moment, lost. Thank you. Just what I need. A relevant communicator with a deep message in Christ! yay

  7. Emily Rodriguez says:

    ” And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. ” Philippians 1:9-11

    So so powerful! As a youth leader this verse jumped out as something to pray over my kids. So amazing. I was at the conference at sandy cove last weekend and was blessed by you ladies. These devotions are just a continuation of that blessing. Thanks!

  8. Zoey says:

    Its funny God had me read Phillipians a couple days before I received your email. This scripture blessed me as well in a situation with my youngest son, who is 17 and lives far away with his father. He was kidnapped from me when he was 5 by his fathers family and I have seen him once since. Its a very complicated story that has resulted in my son not trusting me and refusing the visitations I was awarded in court. After prayer today and much weeping, God urged me to contact him on facebook. I have done this before and never get a response. Today, however, my son and I spoke for almost an hour and my heart is full of hope. God promises to restore the ruins of our lives, and although it has been many years in the making and is still slow going, I have faith that my son will soon want to know me and will be in my life again as it should be. Praise God!

  9. Katie B says:

    As a hobby runner, this devotion sticks with me. And so many verses in Philippians really stirred me (1: 9-11; 1:27-30; 4: 6-9; always 4:13). What I really noticed was Paul’s wisdom – especially in 4:11: …”for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances”. I have been reading the books that Solomon authored and about his wisdom, so I think that is why this stood out to me today.

  10. marilou says:

    good morning Gwen,, just the right reminder i am needing today,,
    i get easily discouraged sometimes i dont even take my first step in the
    race cuz i am scared of failing.. but this encourages me to just go ahead
    and remember that my life is in God’s hands.. God bless!!

  11. Lynn says:

    Read Philippians today and actually taught it in Sunday School last week.
    What I taught my 5th graders is what speaks to me too, that we need to be shining lights in this world. “Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may be innocent and pure as God’s perfect children, who live in a world of corrupt and sinful people. You must shine among them like stars lighting up the sky, as you offer them the message of life.” Philippians 2:14-15
    Your life in Christ makes you strong, and his love comforts you. Philippians 2:1

  12. Grace says:

    Good morning ,

    Firstly , let me thank you for your inspirational devotionals. As a college student, the Girlfriends in God Devotion was a wonderful and efficient way to start off my day before hectic classes or exam schedules. I read the book of Philippians, as suggested at the end of today’s blog, and it has motivated me to continue to run this race with fervor and determination.Oftentimes, we forgot the “bigger picture” dealing with life’s daily curve-balls. But in all things we need to ‘seek first the kingdom of God’ and all of our hearts’ desires will be added onto us despite our shortcomings or doubts. I pray God reward you for all of your efforts and increase your ministry as you bless the children of God daily. Be blessed!! 🙂

  13. Jennifer McDonough says:

    Hello and thank you..
    Good morning sister … Remember ask God today to keep your mind as one with your heart.. It is in your heart where Jesus resides ask God to conform your mind to stay on the goal.. The goal is him .. Amen
    This is something I struggle with daily

  14. Linda says:

    Hi Gwen,
    I had just finished reading the book of Php when your devotional came. I had something bad happen at work yesterday. My new boss wrote me up for making an error last week. The thing is I was really sick last week but there’s no one to fill in so I was working w/a temperature. it was late & he demanded a new project from me immediately. I did it but made an error in the formula. I found the error this wk & corrected it, but he said error r unacceptable. For the first time in my long career I was written up – not a first warning either but a final warning. if I make another error I will be immediately dismissed. I’m just burned out. I can’t take any more. I really tired & broken. Please pray for me. Linda

    • Gwen Smith says:

      Dear Lord, Thank You for being a God of strength and provision. For loving imperfect creatures such as us. We bless You and seek You. Would you please help Linda to experience Your grace and strength today? She’s tired, Lord. Would You renew her in a way that is so personal that she can’t help but worship in response? You are good. Thanks for hearing our prayers. We pray in Jesus’s name, amen.

  15. Debbie says:

    Gwen my name is Debbie Frederick and I love today’s reading, at times If something happens I feel like giving up because I feel so embarrass to go to God, but his morning’s reading gives me strength to go on. Thank you for availing yourself to God to be used by him to bless others. Keep on writing!

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