1 Corinthians 1: 24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
I enjoy watching old running races. YouTube has made it quite easy to find clips from races that go back many decades. One inspirational race for me is from the 1972 Olympics, the men’s 800m final. In this race, American Dave Wottle was about 15 metres behind the pack of runners within the first 200m of the race. In a short race like the 800m, that distance is massive. But on the second lap Waddle slowly regains contact, and then on the final curve he puts himself into a position for a final thrust for the lead. Down the final straightaway he moved from fourth to first, just nipping his competitors at the line. While it appeared that he was out of it within the first half lap, Dave Waddle had run a perfect race, saving his best for last. It may not have been how many coaches would have planned it out, but he had run in such a way as to get the prize – the Olympic Gold medal.
Our Christian walk is comprised of far more than our conversion. Making a decision to follow Jesus Christ as your own personal savior is an exciting time and rightfully a time of rejoicing. However, this is just the beginning of the race. God calls us to do much more than ride out this life flying under the radar, waiting for his return or for us to squeak into heaven. While it is true that we were not saved through doing good works, God has, however, created us to do good works for the advancement of his kingdom. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2: 8-10)
As I grow older I can now look back many decades at Christians I knew in my youth. I can vividly remember a number who appeared to be deeply devoted Christians, passionate for God’s word and for walking a righteous line. Yet something happened over time. Some have lost their passion, others have completely walked away from God. Their ambitious start to the race is for naught. It is the finish that God cares about. Will we stay faithful to him even when it gets inconvenient, or worse, when we are persecuted for our beliefs? To win a race we must run it with wisdom. We must ensure we are properly fueled for the race and this comes from Jesus. He says he is the Vine and we are the Branches (John 15:1-4) and as long as we are attached to the vine, we will receive nourishment from him to run the race well.
I find the race very difficult and extremely challenging at times. I can honestly say that I have thrown my hands up many times to the heavens and said: “God I’m done”. But fortunately, God never gives up on me. He is gracious enough to listen my complaining and then ready to offer me his yoke, which is easy, (Matthew 11:28-30) when I’m ready to carry on with the race. No matter how difficult it gets, I have made a commitment to finish the race, and I know what awaits me if I run the race well unto the end. “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ (Matthew 25:21). How about you? Are you committed to running the race well, until you have breathed your last breath?