A preface to this entry: Before I moved out of San Jose for the first time in 2010, I had been attending this church down there that had their sermons on CD for people to listen. I thought that was a pretty clever thing to do for people like me that like to listen when not in church.
When I moved down to LA, I called the church if they could send me some old sermons for my drive to LA. They did and today I listened to the final part of a series that talked about finishing the race (our life) strong with God.
With that, I feel like sharing what I learned.
The concept of my life as a race was something that took me by storm. I never would have used that analogy. I don’t like rushing through things. I like to do things with thought and good pace. I like to do things right instead doing it first.
But when this message came to me, it took a new meaning. Races aren’t all about finishing first. For some people that know they aren’t going to win, finishing the race itself is the challenge. It’s the goal. And they want to do it right and do it strong.
This takes me back when I ran a 5k race a couple years back. I had no business finishing first. Look at me and my out of shape body. But as I still ran and saw everyone passing me by, I still continued on. My goal was not to win, but to finish. There was a satisfaction in knowing that I faced the challenge and completed it.
That’s what the message talked about. It wasn’t about how we all started in our lives, but how we finished. It’s the same way we need to approach our walk with God. We can’t be flimsy with God. We need to grow stronger and stronger and finish strong.
The sermon I listened to was about King Saul and how he was the opposite of finishing strong. He started strong as he was anointed King and God had given Saul all the possibilities to succeed. But Saul eventually started to drift away. That led to Saul falling away from God and eventually, Saul ended his own life so far from God. He didn’t finish his life (race) strong at all.
We take a look at Jesus’ disciple Peter. He was a lowly fisherman without much status in the world. He was just a working class man but he continued to grow with Christ and his faith grew stronger. As we looked through his life after Jesus’ resurrection, we saw that Peter continued to preach the Gospel, lead the nations to Jesus. He finished strong.
I think the hardest thing for us in our lives is to realize that we are in a race. And in that race, we are not running by ourselves. The entire point of the race of faith is that we finish on the right path and with our Creator.
So many times in my life where I have tried to run the race of my life on my own. I have fallen so many times. I have in my mind come up short. It’s a terrible feeling and that turned my life into a whole mess as I tried to continue forward.
But it wasn’t until I took a step back and allowed God to help me. In my race with God, I grew stronger. His love fueled me. His encouragements empowered me. God continued to give me strength that I couldn’t have built up myself.
My life is better now because of it. I see the finish line in the distance and I am stronger than ever running towards it. My faith in God is strong.
So many times I’ve seen and heard stories of people that were once filled with God and then a speed bump happens that changes their entire life. They fall from God, grow weak and don’t finish strong. And it’s sad because God has always been there extending His hand. Those people just never saw it and reached for it.
This isn’t to say that our lives will be perfect. Like any challenge, there will be obstacles. Sometimes we can leap over it, other times we can’t. And with these challenges, we turn to God. Nothing in our lives is so bad that we can’t make it right with God.
That’s what really stuck out to me. God wants us to continue turning to Him. He wants us to finish strong, no matter how badly we started. The reward and satisfaction of finishing strong — with God — is the ultimate feeling. It is what we strive for.
And if we stumble, it’s not over. We simply get back up and keep going towards our goal. We know our true prize is ahead. Not one thing can stop us if we continue to rely on God.
In the sermon that inspired this post, they played this video.
That’s us on the race track. We are Derek Redmond. We’re running the race. And despite falling, we get up and continue. Even though the officials say that we should stop, we continue. Despite being hurt, flawed, we fight our way to finish what we started. And like God our Father, He will be there for us, carrying us to the finish line. He’s been there since the beginning and will be there to the very end.
I hope all of you continue to keep the faith, grow in it and finish the race of life strong — with God always on your side.