I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7
Every runner knows that running a good race, takes discipline and hard work. Among other things, a runner needs good nutrition, sufficient rest and practice, practice, practice. Without these building blocks, one may as well take a seat on the grandstand and watch. There’s another secret ingredient to winning a race, when the starting gun goes off and the race has begun, focus on the finish line, no matter what happens, keep your eyes on the prize. That’s the end goal. Avoid the temptation to look sideways or backwards at the other competitors. They have their own race to run, and that mini-second glance, will only distract you from executing your own race. It could even cost you the prize. Ignore the roar of the crowd; ignore their taunts too. This is not about them, it is about you and the goal ahead of you. There’s a lane on this earth, marked out just for you. Find it, and run your race.
Towards the end of Paul’s life, he says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Is Paul referring to three different activities? Of course not! Just one; he is talking about his divine race of faith. Paul reveals that this faith is worth fighting for; it is worth completing; and it is worth keeping to the end of life. Many are the saints who have lost their lives throughout the centuries for this faith. In the foreword to Christine Caine’s book, “Unstoppable (2014),” Craig Groeschel, senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv writes, that running this race “involves faith, perseverance and possibly even danger.” On many occasions, Paul faced danger and rejection (Acts 9: 15-16; 1 Corinthians 15: 30-32; 2 Corinthians 4: 8-12; 2 Corinthians 11: 23-28), but he kept his eyes on the prize, and he finished his race.
How about you? Are you running, the race you were born to win? Are you moving towards the finish line at the pace God intended for you, or have you been side-tracked and distracted by the whistles and catcalls of the spectators? Have you slowed down to pick up the souvenirs the crowds have thrown at your feet? Or have you checked out of your lane because of the strains, the pains, the frustrations and exhaustion that have come upon you. Paul did not cave in despite the exhaustion, and the danger he encountered along the way. And if he could push through under those circumstances, we can do no less.
Now get this, you are not running alone. You are part of a divine relay. There are others who are waiting for you to hand off that spiritual baton. So, run my friend, with the Holy Spirit fueling your fire and desire to fight and win. Run, with your eyes focused on Jesus who is waiting at the finish line, as heaven’s grandstand cheers you on. Whatever, you may be facing today, don’t let it distract you from the goal. God is able to handle everything that concerns you. Cast your burden on him, then get back in your lane, and run your race. And as you run, remember these encouraging words from Hebrew 12:1-2:
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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
Loving God, you have brought me this far, and I will not go back. Give me the strength to run my race without fear of persecution. I know that those who trust in you will never be put to shame. I commit all the other runners to you, protect them and guide them in their race. Thank you for the victory that is already ours, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.