Finishing the Race

Swimmers Frolic in Nature – MN Landscape Arboretum Sculpture Garden

I’ve never been to the Olympics but I can appreciate what an incredible thrill it must be to stand on the podium, representing your nation while the National Anthem plays. There the cumulation of a lifetime dream is accomplished. Those who stand in that place do not arrive without a great deal of pain and struggle. Whatever their specialty, it seems every person has a story about adversity overcome. Injuries and personal tragedies tested their limits.   To say nothing of the time and effort put into perfecting their natural gifts. Skills honed over long practice sessions allow the athlete to compete.

The apostle Paul used the language of the games when he spoke of running the race, knowing that to live as a Christian would test our resolve on many occasions. Later he would write, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”(II Timothy 4:7)

Our own lives also need the persistence of the athlete in our commitment to living a life of meaning and significance. I think I first started following Jesus the day I realized that if I were going to worship on Sunday morning, the decision would need to be made the night before. It was made with baths and clean clothes, lining up seven sets of children’s shoes and getting them polished. The decision to put Christ in the center of my life meant that other parts of my life would have to adjust.

Looking back these many years later, I see how God was leading me one step at a time into a deeper faith and a more meaningful life.  Our decisions set a direction for good or ill.  Over time our lives are nourished or ravaged by the choices we make.  Today, I’m grateful for God’s persistent nudges, for the people I’ve encountered along the way . . .  I’m grateful for the grace I’ve experienced and seen in action.   I’m grateful that God continues to nudge me forward, day by day.   Someday, like the apostle Paul, I hope to be able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

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