One of my favorite childhood memories was getting to tag a long with my dad as he and several of his friends and business partners attended the big Nascar race at Bristol Motor Speedway each year. I’m not sure what it was that captivated my attention, but it’s a memory that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. I’ll never forget before each race, the grand marshal would say, “Gentlemen, start your engines” and the speedway would become a deafening coliseum of sheer awesomeness. After all, it was “Bristol Baby!” I must admit though, after the first few laps my mind would wonder, and I’d be lost in my own little world for the majority of the race…until the end. You see, I could care less how the race started. I just wanted to see the ending. If you’ve ever been to a big race at Bristol, you know the ending usually gets wild. Drivers wrecking each other, going 3 wide into turn 3 and 4 (ok you get the point). In other words, the ending has always been and will always be the best part of the race!
If you don’t currently live under a rock, you heard of the passing last week of Billy Graham. Did Billy Graham have his faults, you bet. But if there was anything you could say about Billy Graham, it was that he was consistent and that he finished well. He finished well in a time where so many seem to quit before they finish. If you’re a Christian, you do know you’re running a race, right? In fact, we all are. This race isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. That why the writer of Hebrews encourages to run with patience or perseverance (Hebrews 12:1). The big question is this: Who or What are you running towards? Have you become distracted with everything going on around you? Have you fallen and made a mess of things? Maybe you’ve even stopped running. Get this…we’re all going to come to the end of the race one day whether we’re ready or not. And knowing this makes me determined to finish well. To be consistent. To be faithful, in the good times as well as the bad.
When our race is over, we will all stand before God and give account for how we’ve ran our race. What will He say of you on that day? I desire more than anything to hear my King say “Dustin, well done my good and faithful servant.” What about you? You see, He will not say well done my good and faithful servant if you haven’t been one. That’s why its so important to keep our focus on Jesus and determine every single day that we will pick up our cross and be found faithful to run the race that is set before us. Will it be easy? Nope. Will the cross be hard to carry sometimes? You bet. But will it be worth it one day to hear our Savior say well done? Absolutely. I’m confident that when we stand before our King one day, we’re not going to give a second thought to how popular we were on earth or how much money we made along the way. It’s not going to matter how much stuff we got or what kind of job we had. The only thing that will matter is what we did for Jesus. How we ran the race. Were we faithful or did we waste our life and squander opportunity after opportunity?
In 2 Timothy, Paul writes his final letter to Timothy knowing that he was in his last days and nearing death. In chapter 4, we find Paul encouraging young Timothy just as he had done for much of his ministry. After he offered words of encouragement to Timothy, notice Paul’s words in verse 7. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Will you be able to say this one day or have you quit fighting, stopped running, and lost hope? I’m broken over so many people who have seemingly laid down their sword and have allowed the enemy to trip them up, often just short of the finish line. Let me paraphrase Paul here: ”Keep your eyes on the prize, folks!” Even if we’re blessed to live almost 100 years like Billy Graham, I promise it will seem but just a blink, especially in light of eternity. So no matter where you are in this race we’re on, run!
Maybe you need to pray and ask God to pick you up, dust you off, and put you back in the race. Maybe you need to pick up the sword (Word of God) and get back in the battle. Whatever you need to do to finish the race well, determine to do it. It will ALL be worth it one day when our eyes meet our Savior and we hear Him say “Well done.” By the way, church history tells us that Paul was so ready to meet Jesus that when he was shown the chopping block on which he was to be beheaded, Paul ran towards it, and laid his bare neck down upon it not wanting to wait another moment to see his Savior. I think its safe to say that Paul finished well. May we determine to do the same. For the same Savior that was there to welcome Paul home will soon be welcoming us home as well. What a day that is going to be! Are you ready?
Praying for you always,