During one of the our kids’ last track meets of the season, I noticed something unusual while standing on the sidelines cheering for the kids on our team.
One of the runners from our school was competing in one of those punishing long distance races. As she ran, her boyfriend (who had graduated the previous year) was running right alongside her, calling out encouragement the entire length of the race. He literally jogged around the entire length of the track, keeping up her pace so he could cheer her on.
After she crossed the finish line in first place, he ran to her wearing a giant grin, scooped her up into a big bear hug, and spun her around several times as they shared celebratory laughter and kisses.
It was a sweet, joyful moment.
It was also a wonderful visual of our lives lived on this earth with Jesus.
The Bible refers to our lives as a race.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1).
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7).
Annie’s boyfriend had completed his own races while he was still a student at the high school. He has already made his mark; now it was her turn to run.
He was also a long-distance runner so he knew exactly what she was experiencing as she fought through exhaustion and pain to get to that finish line.
Although he had graduated and left the high school for college, he had returned to be there with her. This was her race to run, but he was right there, offering her the gift of his presence and his encouragement.
He never left her side, just continued running right alongside her until she crossed that finish line.
Then it was all sweet celebration, the pain of running the race forgotten in the joy of victory and togetherness.
Do you see the parallel here?
Jesus has run His race on the topsoil of Earth before us.
Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love us in order to get something from us, but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that. (Ephesians 5:1-2)
It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. (Deuteronomy 31:8).
Jesus experienced every temptation we do so He intimately identifies with our struggles, exhaustion, and pain.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15).
Death couldn’t hold Jesus…He came back for us and promises His constant presence as we run the race marked out for us.
God Himself has said, “I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake you, nor let you down or relax My hold on you. Assuredly not! (Hebrews 13:5).
Are you tired? Word out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. (Matthew 11:28-30).
Then, at the end of our race, faith will become sight and we will see Jesus at the finish line, with a smile on His face and arms opened wide, hearing Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master’s happiness.” (Matthew 25:21).
Jude 24 gives us a glimpse of what Jesus is going to feel on that day when we are finally in His Presence and in His arms: Now to Him who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling and to present you unblemished, blameless, and faultless, before the Presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exaltation with unspeakable, ecstatic delight...
Take that verse personally. That will be Jesus’ reaction to being with you.
So, wherever you are in your race today, take heart.
Jesus is running with you every step of the way.
And always remember that it is His face you will see when you reach your finish line.
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! (I Corinthians 9:24).