The famous Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe was no stranger to adversity. Growing up in the early 1900's as a Native American, Jim experienced the horrors of racism and prejudice. Not only that, he had to deal with the reality of death at an early age. His twin brother died when they were only 9 years old. And before he reached adulthood, both of his parents also died, leaving Jim an orphan.
But God blessed Thorpe in one particular way—his athletic ability. He was one of the first players to ever play professional baseball and football. He was one of those rare athletes that excelled at whatever sport he tried. And among all of his accomplishments, perhaps his greatest was his two Gold medals in the 1912 summer Olympic games in Stockholm Sweden. Shortly before he was to start in the pentathlon, someone stole his shoes. Instead of giving up, Jim went to the trash and found two shoes … of two styles. One was an athletic shoe and another was a loafer. Each shoe was a different size. He compensated by adding an extra sock. He was determined to run the race that he had been asked to run. His perseverance and resolve to finish the race is what enabled him to run it. Jim was determined to run the race set before him with no excuses.
You and I, have a race set before us. In fact, more than once the Bible uses this kind of imagery to describe the Christian life. The Apostle Paul, when nearing the end of his life said this:  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Tim 4:7). His life was focused on the one event which truly mattered - the mission that God had set out for him. Or consider what Paul said to the church at Galatia:  You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? (Galatians 5:7). You see they had believed the truth of the gospel, they were applying that belief to their behavior - but someone had hindered them. An obstacle had been thrown on the track.
If the Christian life is akin to running a race, the obstacles are endless. We get begin to run well after righteousness, and yet find ourselves sidetracked by a besetting sin. We begin to run well seeking to know the truth of God, and yet find ourselves floundering to read the Bible. We begin run well living out the gospel in our lives, and yet find ourselves sidetracked by the schemes of the enemy.