The Bible is replete with images from real life that help us understand God’s principles and direction for our lives. One of the most helpful for me is found in Paul’s encouragement to the Corinthians to “run the race to win…” (1 Cor. 9:24).
I’ve never been a great runner, but I love this analogy from Paul. Running is a sport of endurance and determination. It brings both pain, and, when those endorphins kick in, euphoria (well, at least that is what I am told!!!:)
The great thing about running the race with Jesus is that we are not running alone. He has promised that we will be guided by the Holy Spirit, who was sent to be our guide, our strength, and our comfort.
One of the most amazing stories that I’ve ever read is the account of Derek Redmond, a British runner in the 1992 Olympics. Derek was competing in the 400 heat, and was on the back stretch, only 175 meters from the finish line when disaster struck. Derek’s hamstring in his right leg popped, and down he went. Struck with immense pain, Derek struggled to get back up on his feet. He HAD to finish. His dream of a winning a medal was clearly dashed, but he refused to not finish this race.
But the pain and struggle was great.
Watching all this unfold from his seat in the stands was Derek’s father, Jim Redmond. Instinctively, Jim jumped to action, cleared through security, and ran to the track. He helped Derek up to his feet, and said to him, “I’m here, son. We’ll finish together.”
Derek put his arms around his father and sobbed, and he was not alone. 65,000 people who were in the stands stood to their feet, crying and clapping. A few feet from the finish line, dad released his grip, and Derek crossed the line on his own, to the cheers of everyone in the stadium.
It was an Olympic moment that will never be forgotten. Without a doubt, it was the most celebrated last-place finish in Olympic history. But…he finished the race.
Jim Redmond’s help and love for his son serves as a wonderful illustration to the kind of support that we can give to others, and more importantly, to the great help that we as believers receive in our race through life – not only from friends and family, but from our Heavenly Father.
Jesus told us to run, and to run in such a way as to win. What a comfort it is to know that we are not running alone. Our God is right there with us – with arms around our shoulders, telling us that we will finish…together.
Mike Gilland is Operations Manager for The Shepherd Radio Network, a group of radio stations in Florida that features the “Christian Teach/Talk” format. Mike hosts a daily talk radio show in the 2 PM hour called “Afternoons with Mike”, talking to local pastors and newsmakers. In Gainesville, Mike is heard on WTMN – 96.3 FM / 1430 AM. In Ocala, on WRZN – 103.5 FM / 720 AM. In addition to his broadcast experience, Mike spent 36 years in full-time ministry as a pastor and worship leader. As a guitarist, Mike performs at concerts, restaurants, private parties, etc. He is married to Cindy, the father of four grown children and grandfather to seven grandchildren.