Nov 12, 2015

The Finish Line

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. (1 Corinthians 9:24)
The life or journey of Christian has been (in scripture) compared to running a race. And, after running in this race since 1979 I will tell you that it's not easy! I have many friends who have run with me who have fallen, quit, or dropped out of the race never to return; at least not at the time of this writing.
I know of many who have gone back to the life that they swore to never go back to again simply because, at times, following Jesus seems to be too hard. Friends, companions, acquaintances who heard the starting gun go off, and at some point stopped as they hit the wall or they fell and couldn’t get back up or they tried on their own to keep running. And my heart is heavy for them today.
My friend, I will tell you that at times it's not easy running this race!
There is a song called; “The Finish Line” that really affects me deeply every time I hear it. In it, song writer Steve Taylor tells the story of someone who runs the race and discovers that it's not a steady uphill victory climb or victory march into Heaven. No, it’s a race that is run with blood and sweat and perseverance.
It is a race in which we start out excited when we are born again and we make commitments to not look back as we set our sights on the finish line
Once upon an average morn an average boy was born for the second time
Prone upon the altar there he whispered up the prayer he'd kept hid inside
The vision came, he saw the odds a hundred little gods on a gilded wheel
"These will vie to take your place, but Father, by your grace I will never kneel"
And I saw you, upright and proud and I saw you wave to the crowd
And I saw you laughing out loud at the Philistines
And I saw you brush away rocks and I saw you pull up your socks
And I saw you out of the blocks for the finish line
It’s a race in which we start out strong and yet sometimes we fall or at least have opportunities to fall. It’s a race in which we sometimes give in to compromise as all hell breaks out against us as we try to run this race.
Darkness falls, the devil stirs and as your vision blurs you start stumbling
The heart is weak, the will is gone
And every strong conviction comes tumbling down.
Malice rains, the acid guile is sucking at your shoes while the mud is fresh
It floods the trail, it bleeds you dry as every little god buys its pound of flesh

It’s a race in which, at times, we stop, and pout, and fight the urge to quit as we cry out; “I didn’t sign up for this!” And we find ourselves going back to our old ways of coping with life and we build our walls and push everyone away.
And I saw you licking your wounds and I saw you weave your cocoons
And I saw you changing your tunes for the party line
And I saw you welsh on old debts I saw you and your comrades bum cigarettes
And you hemmed and you hawed and you hedged all your bets waiting for a sign
It’s a race in which we, if we listen to the One who has called us to follow Him (Jesus Christ), can find the strength to stop what we are dong. And rest. And allow Him to “forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9)
Let's wash our hands as we throw little fits
Let's all wash our hands as we curse hypocrites
We're locked in the washroom turning old tricks
Deaf and joyless and full of it
It’s a race in which the Holy Spirit will remind us of why we are running and He will bring fresh vision of what we committed to do so that we can recommitted to following Him as we look to Him, not ourselves, for endurance.
The vision came, he saw the odds a hundred little gods on a gilded wheel
These have tried to take your place, but Father, by your grace
I will never kneel. I will never kneel
It is a race in which we don't necessarily even see the finish line very clearly in front of us. So, at times we have to squint to see it; hoping because we're pretty sure it's really there and obtainable no matter who is dropping out all around us.
Off in the distance, bloodied but wise
As you squint with the light of the truth in your eyes
It is a race in which we run with our hands lifted up in surrender to the only One who sustains us as we press forwards the finish line.
And I saw you, both hands were raised
And I saw your lips move in praise
And I saw you steady your gaze
For the finish line
It is a race in which we will win because He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. It is a race in which we trust Him for strength as well as protection as we fall forward towards the finish line.  The goal, the finish line is Him.
          Every idol like dust a word scattered them all
         And I rose to my feet when you scaled the last wall
        And I gasped when I saw you fall in His arms at the finish line
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” (1 Corinthians 12:1-3)
“The Finish Line” written by Steve Taylor Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC
All Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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