Finish Strong

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The 2018 Winter World Olympics are set to open this Friday night in Pyeong Chang, South Korea and literally the whole world will be watching. These athletes are the best of the best. They have practiced innumerable hours, training hard to get their bodies and minds in optimal condition and studying every detail of their sport.

World class athletes are teachable, dedicated and focused.  They do not quit when the circumstances are hard or even when they fail.  These athletes, like many others learn from mistakes and try again because they have a goal to achieve, a dream or a mission to pursue.  Their eye is on the prize…the gold medal…. and their desire is to finish well.

The academy award winning movie “Chariots of Fire” is based on a true story and is set chariots of firein the post WWI era at the 1924 Paris Olympic Games. Harold Abrahams a determined Jew and Eric Liddell a devout Christian, are both naturally gifted fast sprinters, but approach running and how it fits into their prospective lives differently.  Liddell learns that his 100 M race will be held on a Sunday – which he refuses to run based on his religious beliefs despite pressure even from the Prince of Wales.  Instead he preaches a sermon in church and quotes…

 31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.  Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

 A team mate switches races with Liddell so he can race the 400M -4 times longer – on Tuesday. The odds are against him but Liddell defeats all the American favorites and wins the gold medal. But winning an Olympic race was not his ultimate goal. Liddell returned to China to be a missionary along- side his parents, where he was raised.  He later died in a Japanese prison camp in 1945. At the end of the movie we read, “and all of Scotland mourned”.           ( info copied from Plot summary –IMDb)

Some would say, “What a waste of potential” but others understand that everything on earth is temporary and Liddell chose to run the race of life with conviction, passion and the dedication to glorify God.

The apostle Paul often used a “racing” metaphor in comparison to the Christian life. The city of Corinth was a melting pot of cultures and a massive seaport full of every kind of evil. It boasted an outdoor theater that accommodated 20,000 people which held athletic games second only to the Olympics. He wrote:

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Cor 9:24-27 (ESV)  

race-marathon

 The Christian life is a marathon not a sprint. We need to stay connected to our Source of strength through reading the Bible and prayer. Practice is an everyday event! In a culture that increasingly dismisses our Christian principles and values we need to be dedicated to standing strong.  The Bible is full of examples to follow – people just like us – and most notably Our Lord Himself.

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.      Heb 12:1-2 (ESV)

There is a cost for following Christ…It takes discipline, focus, faithfulness, time and may cause pressure, pain, misunderstanding, even failure…you fill in your own blank_________.    But the prize set before us is eternal peace, joy and to hear Our Father say “well done my good and faithful servant. Welcome home.”

 Charles Billingsley – Finish Strong lyrics

Lately I’ve been feeling
Like this race is running me
And I’m fighting to stay focused
On all that I believe
And somewhere in the distance
There’s a prize that I can win
And I’m more determined now more than I’ve ever been

CHORUS
I want to finish strong
Faithful to the Father thought the road is long
Crossing that line and still I’m pressing on
Oh, I want to finish strong
Oh, I want to finish strong

I can still remember
What it felt like at the start
When the passion for the mission
Was a fire in my heart
And the further that it takes me
It gets easier to see
The best part of the journey now
Is still in front of me

BRIDGE
It’s not about how fast I run
It’s not about how far I’ve come
It’s all about the moment

When I hear My child, well done

 

 

 

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