In 1968 – the Olympics were held in Mexico City – the last runner to finish the marathon was a man from Tanzania. During the race, he broke his leg. He stumbled, was in terrible pain. He was bruised, beaten, bloodied, yet pressed on in agony. And long after everyone else had entered the stadium, in fact the stadium was almost empty--there was only @7000 people left, he entered, straggling in, the last person in the marathon race...
The Bible teaches very clearly that life is a race. Unfortunately, many people never finish it well; they get sidetracked, distracted, discouraged, disqualified.
They fail to realize no one lives life perfectly; everyone has regrets. And we either live a life of regret or learn to put life’s mistakes into perspective and learn from them so we can run a better race.
For one reason or another, many die with unfulfilled dreams, with unrealized potential, and without ever becoming what God intended them to become. That is a tragedy!
How do you discover God’s mission for your life and then fulfill it? The Apostle Paul said, "I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me...” Acts 20:24"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith..." 2 Ti 4:7.“Run in such a way as to get the prize” 1 Cor. 9:24 HOW DOES ONE RUN TO GET THE PRIZE?1. Run at a steady pace—don’t try to sprint when you are designed to jog! Run a marathon, not a sprint! “Let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back ...and run with patience the particular race that God has set before us." Heb 12:1 (LB)· Every person has a “particular race that God” set for them! So don’t try to run a race you were not SHAPED to run! You have a particular set of gifts, abilities, and talents. You will never effectively run a race you were not designed to run!· Remember to strip off the excess weight that holds you back—the sin that so easily entangles us!
"Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead , I strain to reach the end of the race..." Phil. 3:13-14 (LB)
To “strain” means to “stick out the neck”; to “stretch beyond” so as to finish in a timely and competent manner! · Don’t shrink back in your latter years— you were designed to run the race over an entire lifetime. As you get older, you should run smarter rather than harder or faster! You’re going to spend far more of your life in eternity – thousands and thousands of years in eternity and maybe 100 at the most on this planet. Don’t build your life around just the here and now. You’ve got to have an eternal perspective.
“We fix our attention, not on what is seen, but on things that are unseen.” 2 Cor. 4:18 (GN)2. Stay fresh thru daily renewal To last over the long haul, you have to know how to recharge yourself – spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally.
“For this reason we do not become discouraged… our spiritual being in renewed day by day.” 2 Cor 4:16 (GN)
"Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer.” Ps. 94:19 (LB)· When you begin to doubt remember:a) God’s goodness yesterday. Make a list of all the things He’s done in your life and be thankful.b) God’s presence today. He is with you right now. You may feel alone but you are not. c) God’s promises for tomorrow. There are over 7000 of them in the Bible. They’re like blank checks you can just write anytime you desire. “Lord, I’m claiming this one today. I’m cashing this check. I’m claiming this promise.” Resist discouragement. It is one of Satan’s favorite tools! If he can get you discouraged, he’s neutralized you! Made you are ineffective. Why? Because discouraged people are the opposite of people of faith, and God uses people who have faith. · When I am discouraged: I’m saying, “It can’t be done.” · When I am discouraged: I am grouchy, irritable, complaining! · When I am discouraged: I give up without a fight. · When I am discouraged: I fail to persevere thru hardship.· When I am discouraged: I have pity parties, then get mad when no one comes! Nothing worthwhile ever happens without endurance and energy! Nothing worthwhile is ever easy! We were designed to endure struggle and persevere! No wonder the writer of Hebrews said, "You need to keep on patiently doing God’s will if you want him to do for you all that he has promised.” Heb. 10:36 (LB)Listen to what the Lord said in Habakkuk 2:3 "These things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!" Rely on Christ The RACE cannot be completed with human power alone! · Every person has a purpose greater than their self! And you serve until you cross the line! · God calls every one of us to run the race "Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead...straining to reach finish line. Sticking out our necks, stretching beyond our human limitations, trusting Him, so as to finish in a timely and competent manner!
"David served God's purpose in his generation, then he died.“ Acts 13:36
ILLUS continued ...It was 7PM in Mexico City, already dark in the Olympic Stadium as the remaining crowd of @7,000 observed the hobbling runner make his last turn toward the finish line. Lesser men would have quit! Lesser men would have given way to the pain, the blood, the agony of the race. Suddenly the crowd rose, applauding in a loud and unanimous ovation.
Later he was asked, “Why didn’t you quit when you were hurt and bruised, bloody and discouraged? Why didn’t you quit!?” He gave a classic answer. He said, “My country did not send me 7,000 miles around the world to start the race; but to finish it!”
You are beaten, bloodied, tired and discouraged, but the Lord did not save you to just start the race, but to finish it! Run well! Run well! Run well!