Summary: The most important part of the race is the last lap. You can win or lose depending on how well you are prepared for it
THE LAST LAP
Opening Hymn Scripture Reading: 2 Tim. 4:1-8
James was excited as he turned the two hundred mark heading towards home. Two and three –quarter laps had gone and he was still in the lead. His one and only goal was to win this race and he was full of confidence that he could do it. His thoughts race ahead to the podium, the applause, the glory, and his body reveled in the great feeling which it produced. He had started the last lap with a great lead. He had no reason to worry. His legs had a rhythm to them and it was okay.
Behind him Antonio had different thoughts. He had realized that James was confident, too confident. He was sure he could pass him and he planned to make his move at the one hundred metre mark. He had reduced the distance between himself and James and he knew he had plenty of reserve left. He would win this race.
As they turn towards the home stretch James heard the crowd beginning to get excited. He was bathing in the glory but then he realized that they were cheering for someone else. He heard the footsteps and his body felt a tremor of fear. He heard the breathing and his brain sent an urgent message to his legs but his legs replied “sorry can’t do!” His nose picked up the faint smell of perspiration as Antonio took him out. His eyes released the tears which they were holding for a situation such as this. His mind reeled from the realization that the dream it had created would never be fulfilled.
Antonio passed the finish line and James followed but the crowd was still cheering and celebrating. There pandemonium in the stands. It was only then that they realized that the applause and the cheer was not for them but for those were behind who had sacrificed the idea of winning to help each other reach the finish line. During the race many had given up and walked off the track, but these few had chosen to give each other the support they needed to reach the finish line.
James and Antonio neglected to understand that it is not just to finish the race but how you finish the race is even more important.
Brothers and sisters the last lap is a serious lap. You can run the race but you must get through the last lap to finish.
The bible is replete with persons who finished the race badly:
In 2 Chronicles 24:1 -2 We are told of Joash and how he began.
¶Joash was seven years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Zibiah of Beersheba. And Joash did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest. 2 Chronicles 24:1 - 2 Chronicles 24:2
He it was that restored the temple and eliminated fifteen years of idol worship from Jerusalem. Yet as he approached the end of the race he fell. Jehoiada his faithful guardian had passed away and he fell prey to those who gave him ill advise;
2 chron. 24: 15-22
¶But Jehoiada waxed old, and was full of days when he died; an hundred and thirty years old was he when he died. And they buried him in the city of David among the kings, because he had done good in Israel, both toward God, and toward his house. Now after the death of Jehoiada came the princes of Judah, and made obeisance to the king. Then the king hearkened unto them. And they left the house of the LORD God of their fathers, and served groves and idols: and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass. Yet he sent prophets to them, to bring them again unto the LORD; and they testified against them: but they would not give ear. And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you. And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the LORD. Thus Joash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son. And when he died, he said, The LORD look upon it, and require it. 2 Chronicles 24:15 - 22 (KJV)
As long as he had Jehoiada Joash stayed on the correct path but as soon as he passed Joash was led astray at the good old age of thirty. One would like to believe that at this age he was able to make decisions for himself but he was not. It is so important that we train our children to have confidence in themselves and to develop a relationship with God or otherwise the race they have began so admirably may very well finish in disaster.