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Life has been described as a school and that we all are students with our daily challenges, trials and temptations constituting the tests and examinations that we take. No wonder Jesus says in Revelation 22:11 "Behold I come quickly and my reward (Report Card) is with me to give to everyone according to his work. Life can also be described as a battle. Here the Bible admonishes us to put on the whole armour of God because we wrestle not against flesh and blood. Ephesians 6:11-12. In addition, life has been referred to as a journey. We're all pilgrims passing through this earth. (Hebrew 11:13)
But my favourite analogy of what life is, is that LIFE IS A RACE. ".... let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Hebrew 12:1. This description of life as a race, reminds me of what happened in one of our inter house sports, back in my Secondary school. It was a 1,500 metres marathon race where the runners had to run round the field three and a half times. To our pleasant surprise, our representative took of in a dash, as the bell signalled the start of the race. I was happy, excited and then delirious with joy, as our rep kept increasing his lead and running pretty fast. Then after the first lap, he slowed then, but was still leading comfortably... At the end of the second lap however, he was so slow that he was literally walking! Meanwhile, the other contestants were closing the gap. I remember jumping up and down along with others, shouting.."Run! Run!! They are coming!!! Then the unexpected happened! Our guy stopped running and fell down just at the end of the third lap! I was besides myself with worry. Together with our house members, we shouted and shouted..." get up! Get up!! " but he would not. Then we started begging him, "please, please. ..pleaaaasseee! Get up, but Uche refused to get up, until all the other runners over took him. He did not even complete the race. When he eventually got up, he said " Una won kill me, abi? My heart wan cut"
LIFE IS A MARATHON RACE
Whenever I remember that race, it becomes clear to me that life is a Marathon race and not a 100 metre dash. Paul therefore advises us to "run with patience the race that is set before us " - Hebrew 12:1, and Jesus says, " He who endures to the end, the same shall be saved " Matthew 24:13. This race therefore requires PATIENCE AND ENDURANCE.
Another obvious requirement for this race we all are in is TRAINING. You may run a 100m race without training, but you can never run a marathon race successfully without adequate training. Paul says, do you not know that all who strive to win discipline themselves? And that he keeps his body under discipline and control, so that he will not fall by the way side. 1 Cor 9:25-27.
The Los Angeles Olympic Games of 1984, saw the great American athlete, Carl Lewis equalled Jesse Owens record of 4 gold medals won in Berlin 1936 Olympic. A record that stood for most 50 years!He won 4 gold medals in 100m, 200m, 4 x 100m and long jump. Asked about the secret of his success, he said in addition to training, he had the lightest spike ever worn by any athlete. This made him as light as possible.
We cannot run this race of life burdened by the heavy weight of sin. We cannot have malice in our hearts, unforgiving spirit, commit fornication, adultery, steal, lie, etc and expect to win the prize that awaits us. The Bible again tells us to lay aside every weight of sin, so that we can run this race successfully. Hebrew 12:1
The last day of the Athletic Event in The All African Games held in Kenya in 1987, saw Nigeria and Kenya in a neck- to-neck battle for the third position, with Egypt and Tunisia already occupying the 1st and 2nd position respectively. With both Countries tied up at 22 gold medals, each needed to win the event to take 3rd. The Nigerian team was led by Innocent Egbunike, Henry Amike and two others whose name I cannot remember.
The race started very well for Nigeria with our first and second runners leading but hotly pursued by the Kenyans. Then disaster struck. We made a mistake in the exchange of baton between the 3rd and 4th runner and the battle fell! A gasp of horror and despair went up from the Nigerian contingent and supporters... In seconds, the other runners whizzed by... then somehow Innocent Egbunike picked up the baton and a hot pursuit ensued, this time from the last position. At about 300m to go, he caught up and passed the 7th and 6th runners and the 5th and 4th runners by the 200m...remaining the front three runners. At about 80m to go, he passed the 3rd and 2nd runner...leaving the front Kenya runner.
Will he be able to catch up with the Kenya runner? The whole stadium was silent with tension, even the Nigerian supporters who ought to be cheering Innocent on. You could hear a pin drop! Then at just about 10m to go, Innocent caught up with the Kenya runner but could not pass him... It became a "ding dong" with neither willing to give up... They continue to the finishing line, where Egbunike in a last ditch effort push put his neck and head, beating the Kenyan runner by less than 2 seconds!
Perhaps, you've dropped your baton somewhere along the line. Please don't give up. Pick it up! If a man falls down, will he not get up? the Bible says "For a just man falls seven times, and rises up again... "
Or maybe you're running out of patience and getting tired... The Lord promises to renew your strength and refresh you, so that you can run and not get tired!
Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:30-31
Maybe, you're busy running after other things that will perish while neglecting eternal life...
Or you're so busy with the cares and necessities of life, you've lost sight of God and eternity...
All the great athlete I've mentioned regardless of their accomplishments, only pursued a perishable crown.... But we an imperishable. 1 Cor 9:25
And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
This life and death race requires our utmost commitment and FOCUS. We cannot afford to be distracted by anyone else or anything. JESUS is not only the author, but the FINISHER of our FAITH. Hebrew 12:2
Let us remember that they're spectators looking at us (Compassed about with so great a cloud of witness) both seen and unseen, and so run this race faithfully, drawing strength and power from God. Unlike the worldly race, anyone who completes this race will get a crown of LIFE. - Rev 2:10
The world and all that is in it is passing away, but he that does the will of God will live forever.
Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all our faithful God will add all other things you need.
It is my prayer that at the end of our race, we can say like Paul
7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my RACE, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. 2 Tim 4:7-8
May this be our experience in Jesus name.
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