I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his glorious return. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
At the Olympics, glory doesn't only go to those who win. Dorando Pietri was in a state of collapse as he entered the stadium for the final yards of the 1908 marathon. The Italian fell five times before an official helped him across the finish line. Pietri was disqualified, but his indomitable spirit made him an international celebrity.
A similar display of courage enabled Derek Redmond of Great Britain to finish the 400 meters in '92. Hobbled by a torn hamstring near the half-way point, Redmond hopped the rest of the way with the help of his father, Jim, who rushed from the stands to aid his son.
And who could forget the sight of Tanzania's John Stephen Akhwari, his right leg bloody and bandaged, staggering into the stadium more than an hour behind the winner of the '68 marathon? "My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race," he said. "They sent me to finish the race."
How many of us have started something only to become distracted and quit, or take a detour? Or, how many have we seen start the race of ministering to others and lose the way only to fall into disgrace or be put on the shelf? Rather than begin with much flare and fanfare, wouldn't we rather finish? Wouldn't finishing alone be worth it when at the Master's feet we hear, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant"? (Matthew 25:23)
He who finished the most important race in history can empower us to finish what we desire to do in His name. Let's trust in the One who can carry us when we fall and can help us run the race of perseverance so that we can finish strong!