Finishing the Race

marathon-250987_960_720I’ve been a Christian now for nearly 40 years, and it took until just recently for me to understand something big. We don’t run this race alone.

Now, I understand that God says “I will never leave you, or forsake you“…it’s not that. I am very grateful to know that His presence is with me (although I need to remind myself of that…I tend too often to look from horizon to horizon instead of looking up for help).

No, what became clear to me is this– the Christian “race” is not a sprint that we run alone, with God cheering us on at the finish line. Growth doesn’t happen fast. If it seems to, it is probably questionable. We shouldn’t be looking over our shoulder at other runners, wondering if they are gaining on us. Know what happens then? When our eyes aren’t forward, we get off track, we trip, we cause others perhaps to stumble over us. That doesn’t help anyone win.

This isn’t a competition. We should strive for our own personal best. It’s a team effort, similar to a marathon in which a group of people rally together to support a cause. We help each other succeed, and in the end our team will be victorious. We look to see every member cross that finish line. That “great cloud of witnesses” will be eager to see us all complete the course.

You see how this is a game changer? Stop comparing. Run your best. Strive your hardest. Show others what it looks like to persevere. Look for who is exhausted and come alongside them. Speak words that hearten. Offer the cool water of the Word. Refresh others like Onesiphorus and Philemon did. Console others along the journey, like Barnabas.  Other days, you will be the one who is spent and breathless, and so grateful to have your teammate reach out a hand to you. The goal may seem to be forever out in front of us, but it is never out of sight.

Jesus is the “author and finisher of our faith“… He’s made it possible for us to be winners at last–to finish well. Let’s do that.

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