Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up 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 loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:1-8)
I can’t say that I have any real interest in sport. I’m known to watch a bit of cricket and the occasional game of snooker, but apart from that I can take it or leave it as far as watching sport is concerned. However, it has been quite difficult avoiding seeing some sport over the past few weeks as it felt as if any time you turned on the television there was yet another sporting event taking place. Most of the time I would switch over to a different channel but there is something about synchronised diving that I find fascinating. Watching two individual people in perfect, or at least in an attempt to be perfect, harmony jumping off a board, spinning together and then landing at exactly the same time in some water. The synchronised timing and control shown by the competitors fascinated me.
As I watched each pair step up to the board to perform, I considered just what dedication and practice it must have taken in order for them to be ready for this moment. And not only did they have to perform well once they often had many dives that they had to complete as part of the competition. Many of the divers were quite young and although they appeared to be on their own actually they had a team of supporters with them, from coaches, parents, friends and relations all cheering them on, ready to congratulate them when they did well or to pick them up and commiserate with them if the dive did not go as planned.
It is no wonder that in the bible there are many references to taking part and running races. What I was reminded of while watching the diving was that the competitors were not on their own however much they may have looked like they were and as Christians neither are we. We know what the prize is that we are aiming for, as we look to Jesus who has already conquered death and allows us to win the gift of eternal life. We have the support not just of other Christians but we have the best coach and example that you could ever wish for. As Paul writes to Timothy, he knows that his time on this earth is coming near its end, but how wonderful it is that he is able to say that he has fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith. And what confidence he has that he will be awarded a crown and not only is the prize for him but for the rest of us as well.
We may never have been top class athletes or divers, but we all have our own race to run and with Jesus as our coach and our greatest supporter then like Paul we can be confident of winning the prize that really counts.
Father God, give me the strength each day to run the race that you would wish me to do.
Song: Fight the good fight