“Do 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”
– 1 Corinthians 9:24
Who is ready for the Olympics this summer? I was flipping channels the other day and found the Olympic trials and qualifying race for the Marathon. I must confess, the only thing I like less than running long distances is watching a long distance race. This time I was intrigued by it. The runners, the way they were persevering, some holding up well, others struggling mightily. Two women, training partners, were running side by side encouraging one another. This time it seemed the mentor being encouraged by the other runner. The mentor talked about hitting that famous wall. The time when the body just says quit and give up. She didn’t quit. They both finished the race. It reminds me of the journey of life and faith. I have often said life is a marathon, not a sprint. How often in life do we hit those walls and want to give up on life, faith or both.
It leads me to think about the race our Lord and Savior Jesus ran for us. He ran for 33 years. He overcame obstacle after obstacle. The toughest part of the race was the end. He was abandoned, betrayed or denied by almost all, just a few standing by him to the end. He was tired, he was thirsty. He said, “It is finished” and like the original runner who made it to Marathon with the message, Jesus collapsed and died. As the Apostle Paul said and did, “He fought the fight, he finished the race, he kept the faith. Paul also said there was in store for him the crown of righteousness, eternal life, heaven waiting.
The author of Hebrews, some say Paul, also wrote that as we are surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses”,( an audience of supporters and believers in us and the faith), we can overcome anything that slows us down or holds us back. We can persevere and overcome and finish the race. Just as Jesus endured, even carrying a cross, we can rise above and burden, any opposition. He said we don’t have to get tired, lose heart and give up.
Just as Jesus rose above even death at his resurrection, we too can rise above and obstacle, and stumbling block. Just as Jesus’ heavenly Father performed Spiritual CPR on his Son and Raised him back to life, Jesus can breathe life, new life into us, as we run the race.
Are you tired? Are you weary? Are you just trying to survive and stumble across the finish line? Are you striving to give it your best? Or are you thriving? Are you trained and prepare to run this race of life and faith well?
Some barely crossed the finish line that day at the Olympic trials, qualifier for the Marathon. The first three got to go on to the Olympics. The fourth place finishers and after did not. In Corinthians, Paul said to run the race to get the prize. Come join us as at Akron First UMC as we run the race of life and faith together. As we journey on this Believe Series together, we will spiritually train to run the race of life and faith. How well are you trained? How well trained are your children? Grandchildren? Parents, Grandparents?
May all generations come and run this race together, as we do, may we embrace the prize Jesus has set before us, eternal life and as we do, may it help us to thrive and run the race well until we cross that finish line. Amen.