Finishing the Race           

One of the best motion pictures I have seen is “Seabiscuit.” It tells the story of a little race horse in the 1930’s. As the owner in the movie put it when asked why his horse kept winning: “The horse is too small, the jockey is too big, the trainer is too old and I am too stupid to know the difference.”

The jockey explained that it was not the size of the horse but it was the heart. Seabiscuit had “a heart” to run, beating all the competition at the time, which was an inspiration for everyone because he was seen as the underdog.

Paul reminds us that we are also in a race. 1 Corinthians 9:24 states: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.”

Our spiritual goal as true Christians is not to come in first while nobody else gets a prize, but rather, to finish the race and to cross that finish line. But we need to have God’s help in this, and we must never give up or “take a break.”

There is a good lesson in the story about the race between the hare and the turtle (called “Slow and Steady”). The hare knew he could beat the turtle but got distracted. He lost his focus, paused to rest and fell asleep, while the turtle just trudged along at a steady pace. Once the hare woke up and realized that the race was about to be lost, he hurried to the finish line but it was too late—the turtle had already won. After that, as the story goes, the hare always reminded himself, “Don’t brag about your lightning pace, for Slow and Steady won the race!”

There is also an important lesson in the parable with the ten virgins, which is recorded in Matthew 25:1-13:

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

The foolish virgins thought they had enough oil (symbolizing God’s Holy Spirit) to see them through to the appearance of Christ, but because of the delay of the Bridegroom’s coming, they found themselves wanting. They went to get more oil but when they returned, the door of entry into the Kingdom was closed.

We cannot get into a mindset of “My Lord delays His coming” and lose focus, lest we lose out on our potential. As we approach the time of Christ’s Return, things will get harder and we will be tested and tried. There will be at least two types of people in God’s Church at the onset of the Great Tribulation—those who were focused and did what was required of them so that they will be protected at the Place of Safety, and those who lost focus and zeal and who perhaps allowed compromise to creep in; they will need more serious “refining” in the Tribulation so that they may also get their crown and white robes.

The question is, to which group will you belong?

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