I was talking to a man the other day who asked me how I had become a Christian. After I shared briefly about my relationship with God, he began to share about his own past. He talked about a mission trip to Costa Rica, a summer spent building a church in Mexico, a year of Bible college as a young adult, a church group he used to facilitate, a Bible study he had led a few years ago.
As I listened, it struck me that everything he was mentioning had happened in the past, so I asked him what he was currently doing for the Lord, and what his future spiritual goals were. He paused, gave me a puzzled glance, and said “I’ve already done a lot for God. It’s time to do some things for me now.”.
As I reflected on our conversation later that day, a thought that kept coming back to me was that this man had seemingly started his Christian race, but somewhere along the way had abandoned it, not grasping the fact that it’s the finish that matters most.
Galatians 5:7 speaks to this when it says “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?”
In Acts 20:24, the Apostle Luke says “I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”. Nowhere does he mention filling a quota to God and thereafter focusing on himself. Instead he says that his only goal is to finish the race in obedience to God, with complete disregard to his own life.
In 1 Corinthians 9:24, the Apostle Paul writes “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”. He understood that leaving a race partway through means not completing it, and not receiving a prize. If our ultimate goal is the reward of bringing glory to our God and being affirmed and welcomed into His presence, stepping out of the race is not the answer.
You may have had a rough start to your Christian race, and you may have found the terrain so rocky and exhausting that you’ve had to stop and rest for awhile, but eventually you need to get back up and start running again so that you can finish. Don’t give up! Keep running! This year has just begun, and there’s a lot of year left. Start running again, and make the decision to stay in the race this year and finish 2020 well. The eternal rewards will be more than worth these temporary struggles.
“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1