I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4 7-8 NIV
I’ve never been good at sports, but I am looking forward to watching the Olympics this summer. I enjoy hearing the personal stories of the athletes. It is easy to tell they love their sport with a passion to endure the hours of work. They look forward to the end result of their work by striving to win their competition.
I enjoy quilting. It takes hours selecting the pattern and fabric, cutting the fabric, sewing the pieces together, then quilting the top to the back, which I do by hand. The reason I spend so many hours working on a quilt is because I anticipate seeing the joy on the faces of the people who receive the quilt. That goal gives me the incentive to do the work.
The reason most people work so hard at a particular activity is for the end result. Yes, there is joy to be had along the way. I enjoy the creative process of quilting. Athletes enjoy the thrill of their sport. But the ultimate goal is to finish, and finish well.
That’s the way we should be spiritually, as well. We experience times of joy as Christians. Times when we fully enjoy the presence of God as we spend time with Him in prayer and worship. Times when we share with others the glorious knowledge that we are blessed human beings because of Christ loving and saving us. But there are also hard times. Times when we have to fight and endure because of the fact that we live in a sinful world.
So how do we endure our race? By remembering the love God has for us. It is because of His love for us that He sent Jesus into this world to die for us. It is because of His love that we are forgiven of our sins and accepted as His child. It is because of His love that we can live this life as He gives us strength and grace to endure all things. And ultimately, because of His love, one day we will enjoy finishing our race and receiving our crown of life. What better goal to work toward than fully knowing and experiencing His love?
Do you sometimes feel like you are running an endless race? When you begin to grow weary in enduring this life, remember that as a child of God, we are thoroughly loved by Him. And when we continue our race for Him, we are promised we already have the victory.
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. 1 John 5:1-5 NIV
May this prayer Paul prayed for the Ephesians also be our prayer:
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21 NIV