Do you enjoy a good race? Since the beginning of time, different forms of racing have consumed mankind—whether on foot, on wheels, or on the back of a horse. Some, like my daughters, love to run in marathons, while others gear up on a bike, like me.
One of my favorite races to watch is Le Tour de France. After a grueling twenty-two days and twenty-one stages totaling 3,512 kilometers biked through mountains and valleys in France and parts of Switzerland, Chris Froome collected his third win today, July 24, 2016. Zipping into the winning yellow jersey and accepting the grand prize must have been a thrilling moment, as well as his team’s victory lap in Paris.
Niall McVeigh wrote on his blog: (www.theguardian.com)
“Chris Froome has taken a third Tour, another achieved through the phenomenal strength of his team, but crowned with individual moments of drama and determination, demonstrating a will to win that runs as deep as Team Sky’s resources.
Froome has run up mountains, bled through his yellow jersey, borrowed bikes and gone for broke to squeeze every second out of the road to Paris. His place in the pantheon of Tour legends, and Britain’s all-time greatest athletes, is assured.”
Did you ever think of the Christian life like that? The Apostle Paul compared his quest to proclaim Christ’s gospel to running a race. Just like Chris Froome, he had to endure a challenging obstacle course that was thousands of miles long, but, as he told Timothy, … which persecutions I endured, and out of all of them the Lord delivered me! (2 Timothy 3:11)
What were those hard times like? Paul describes them in 2 Corinthians 11:24-28:
Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a day and a night I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.
At the end of the race, there is the prize and the sweet victory lap. Here’s Paul’s account:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there’s laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved his appearing (2Timothy 4:7-8).
No matter how many prizes and awards you’ve earned on earth, there is one that is waiting for all of us who love Jesus. Like Paul, let’s encourage each other as we run, hand off bottles of living water to quench our thirst as we travail, bandage our cuts, get back up after a fall, and keep racing. Together we can make it. Don’t quit—the finish line is just ahead!
Run the race!