Watching the recent Commonwealth Games showed a lot about racing and taking part.
To race for your country is clearly an honour. Some of the races were very closely fought. In some others there were obvious winners, and in some races people who came in a fair distance after everyone else – but all of them were running their race, and running the best they could. It appears that many of the competitors would have had every excuse not to take part, or not try their best – but they still got up there and got on with it – I’m not sure I would.
Paul likens his life to a race. He is content that he has done his best. But the prize in the race of life is not a gold medal, or the honour of being a champion, or holding a world record. What God gives to those who finish the race with him is being put right with him.
For however hard we train, whatever course we take, there will always be things that we get wrong. When I know I’ve got something wrong I feel awful, but God gives us the chance to make it right. He alone can put things right – that is what he will do for us.
I felt so sorry for those who lagged a long way behind in races. To see everyone else well ahead and know that your best is not as good as theirs, must be dis-heartening. But that is not Gods way. As Paul recalls being deserted and all alone, he asserts also that God stayed with him and gave him strength. It is in that power that he finished his race, and in that same power and strength we can run ours.
When we feel that we are ploughing a lonely furrow, when our fight seems solitary, when we feel we are lost – God is there with us. He goes as slow as we need to, or as fast as we are able.
He accompanies us on our journey home. Back to safety. Finishing in a place where all those wrong turns, bad decisions and horrific experiences no longer count. God rescues us and takes us to his kingdom – but he is also with us on the journey. Because the story of God is not just about life ever after, it is about life here and now.
So lets take part in the race, push for home, but know who runs with us.