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Finishing Strong

Pressing on in the race of faith

Eight-time Olympic gold medalist and fastest man on earth, Usain Bolt famously said, “Don’t think about the start of the race, think about the ending.” Bolt admitted that he wasn’t the greatest at starting off his races on the right foot but that he was a strong finisher. We can adopt this attitude towards our own Christian life, which is scripturally likened to a race—the race of faith. As Christians, we are all running a long-distance marathon that requires athlete-level discipline, focus and endurance to finish victoriously. While we all enter the race at different times and experience different setbacks on the track of life, it’s how we finish the race that matters the most to God.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.II Timothy 4:7

In the first century, the ancient Greeks were well-known for their athleticism, particularly the Olympic Games that were a religious festival held in honour of Zeus, the father of the ancient Greek gods. It should come as no surprise that during Paul’s ministry to the Gentile nations, he used the analogy of life as a race to resonate with the Greek cultural norms. However, instead of running to honour Zeus, Paul describes a run that glorifies the one true God, Jesus, who is our example of running a race in complete and total obedience to God. As believers, we don’t compete against one another for a gold medal, but for something greater—the eternal crown of righteousness that can only be found in Jesus.

To run our race victoriously in a way that honours and glorifies God, we must first remove anything that hinders us or adds extra weight that can slow us down. Ancient Olympic athletes would strip off all their clothing, wearing only a loincloth, so that when they ran, there was nothing that could hinder them. For the Christian, the heaviest burden we can carry around is sin. It can cling onto us and entangle us, making us trip up and fall in our walk, but the good news is that Jesus already paid the ultimate price for our sins when He died on the cross. He doesn’t expect us to carry around the weight of our sins but to cast our burdens onto Him and keep running the race with a lightened load.

When we run our race, we must run with perseverance, overcoming any hurdles in our path. We are to press onward toward our calling and purpose in Christ in order to share the Gospel and to do His good work. Jesus endured the cross despite unimaginable suffering yet He never lost sight of His purpose and His eternal reward. We were never promised a life without pain and suffering but we faithfully follow the footsteps of Jesus, who is our ultimate guide. When we remember Jesus’ great love for us and the sacrifice that He made on our behalf, we can renew our strength and keep ourselves on the racetrack. Jesus is our ultimate hope and motivation.

Ultimately, successful runners run with laser focus—not on the people in the stands or the runners around them—but on the finish line. To finish well, we must fix our eyes on Jesus, who is our eternal reward. In the busyness of life, it can be so easy to lose sight of our calling and get distracted or entangled in something we’re not supposed to be doing. When we put God first and diligently choose to lay aside anything holding us back from the Lord, we can cross that finish line triumphantly. When we do, Jesus will welcome us into the grand stadium of Heaven with the words we all long to hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”


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