Summary: The Christian life is not for sprinters...it's for marathoners who can steadily keep moving toward a dream. We're in a race...a spiritual race. Many will never complete the course. But as a Christian, we have all the tools necessary to equip and train us
Running the Race
Bud Greenspan, author of 100 Greatest Moments in Olympic History, wrote the following:
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 5 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, staggered into the stadium more than an hour behind the winner of the '68 marathon? This is what he later said, "My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me to finish the race."
None of these men won the race, but they won the hearts of the people. Why? Because they demonstrated courage and perseverance in spite of adverse circumstances. Success is not a place we arrive at...it's a process...a journey...it's a lifestyle. Failure isn't a one time event, and success isn't a one time event. They are both processes. We could learn a lot from these Olympic examples.
Too many people have what John Maxwell calls Destination Disease. They feel that if they could just meet the right person, gain the right position, get the right job, earn the right income...that everything would turn out the right way. But the key is to focus on running the race. And nobody did a better job of telling us how to run a race than the apostle Paul. He gives us the secret in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (Read)
Step 1...Start running. This sounds so simple and basic, but it's the most important. So many talk about it, read and study about it, analyze how others are doing it...some even get to the starting line...but few actually get out there and do it!
Quote from medical journal..."we hear it almost every day..."I just can't get myself motivated to lose weight, test my blood sugar, exercise...and we hear an equal number of sighs from diabetes educators who can't get their patients motivated to do the right things for their diabetes or their health. We have news for you, motivation is not going to strike you like lightning, and motivation is not something that someone else, a nurse, a doctor, a family member can bestow or force upon you. The whole idea of motivation is a trap. Forget motivation - Just do it! Exercise, lose weight, test your blood sugar or whatever...do it without motivation and then guess what...after you start doing the thing, that's when the motivation comes and makes it easy for you to keep on doing it. Motivation is like love and happiness - it's a by-product. When you actively engage in doing something, it sneaks up and zaps you when you least expect it. As Harvard psychologist Jerome Brunner says, "You're more likely to act yourself into feeling than to feel yourself into action. So act - whatever it is that you know you should do - just do it."
How many people miss out on the best of life because they're still waiting to feel like doing something? Most say, "When I get this the right way...or when I get a little bit better...or when I get a little bit more money...or when I get some time...or when this gets fixed...then I'll do my part."
A key in running the race is to get in there and get started immediately. The person who waits for things to be perfect before they run the race will never enter the race. A person is never what he ought to be...until he is doing what he ought to be doing!
Poem...typical of most people...
They were going to be all they wanted to be - tomorrow
None would be braver or kinder than they - tomorrow
A friend who was troubled and weary they knew
would be glad for a lift and they needed it too
and on him they would call and see what they could do - tomorrow
Each morning they stacked up the letters they'd write - tomorrow
And thought of the folks they would fill with delight - tomorrow
The greatest of people they just might have been
The world would have opened its heart to them
But in fact they passed on and faded from view
And all that they left when their living was through