Finish the Race

This morning I was reading Maggie Hendricks article on Lopez Lomong. Lomong is a 1,500 meter champion runner, but is trying to qualify for the 5,000 meters in the summer Olympics.

Hendricks writes:

Lopez Lomong is the U.S. champion at 1500m, but is trying out the 5000m. Since he’s still getting used to the event, he had an embarrassing moment in the race at Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational.

With two laps to go, Lomong accelerated and broke away from the pack of runners. He easily outpaced them, and with one lap to go, slowed down to celebrate. The crowd at Stanford and track officials waved frantically for Lomong to keep going. He took off, and still easily won the race with a time of 13:11.63, plus earned the Olympic A standard qualifying time.

He was surprised by the mishap.

“When somebody said you got one more lap to go, I was like, huh?” Lomong told Race Results Weekly.

It happens, Lopez. Much better that this happens before the Olympics, right?

I think Lopez would have been humiliated if after gaining so great a lead he would lose the race because he literally quit running thinking he had finished the race.

As Christians we are called to run the race:

  • We run to win the prize (1 Corinthians 9.24)
  • We run the race unhindered (Hebrews 12.1)
  • We run the race with endurance (Hebrews 12.1)
  • We run to finish the race (2 Timothy 4.7)

We cannot allow ourselves to be so distracted that we celebrate our accomplishments before the race is finished. The race doesn’t end with salvation, it isn’t celebrated halfway through, and it isn’t finished until we have breathed our last breath. We must focus on the task at hand—running the race.

We do not just stop running whenever we feel like it. We are called by Christ to follow His example and run this race to the finish. The course that we must traverse is filled with obstacles—doubt, discouragement, difficulty, distress, discomfort, dismay, dread, despair, and even death. There will be times of loneliness and longing for the race to end; nevertheless, we must keep running. We must run in such a way as to not disqualify ourselves. We must run with the sole purpose of finishing the race.

The Christian life is not glamorous, its successes are not recognized, we are mocked, belittled, put-down, and shunned; yet still we are to press on and finish the race. Our human flesh may grow weary and want to sit on the sidelines watching as others race; however, the One who has called us has also equipped us to press on and finish the race.

As Christians we can learn a lot from John Stephen Akhwari.

While competing in the marathon in Mexico City, Akhwari fell, badly cutting his knee and dislocating the joint. He continued running, finishing last among the 57 competitors who completed the race (75 had started). The winner of the marathon, Mamo Wolde of Ethiopia, finished in 2:20:26. Akhwari finished in 3:25:27,when there were only a few thousand people left in the stadium, and the sun had set.

As he finally crossed the finish line a cheer came from the small crowd. When interviewed later and asked why he continued running, he said, “My country did not send me 10,000 miles just to start the race; they sent me to finish the race” (Wikipedia).

In heaven there is a cloud of witnesses cheering us on to finish the race. Regardless of how difficult your course or how tired you may feel, please finish the race!