I have to admit sometimes that I’m not the most patient person in the world. My friends tell me that I am more patient than most, but sometimes I don’t feel that way myself. I am always pressed to do something, whether it is meet some deadline at work, or an appointment to do at home. When you think about it, Society in general is that way now. Busy, busy, busy. Everyone’s always in a hurry to do this or that. It truly is the world of the “microwave.” Everything has to be done instantly and if we can’t finish something quickly, we just quit and move on to something else.
Sadly sometimes, we lead our lives in the same manner. If we can’t lose weight this week, we give up. If we can’t get that job we need by next week, we lose faith. If we don’t see our health improve immediately, we lose hope. It’s human nature to some degree to be this way, although I think we would all agree that we could all be more successful in what we do if we would see things through to the end and not give up quite as easily as we do sometimes.
Last week, I was looking through some old magazine articles that I collect about Sports. I found an article about a long-distance Marathon Runner from Africa who entered the Marathon in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. If you are familiar with the Marathon, the distance is well over 20 miles and travels through the Olympic City streets and then finishes the last lap or two back in the Olympic Stadium. How anyone can run that far is beyond me, but that’s a story for another day.
On this particular Day of the Marathon in Mexico City, the Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medalists had already been crowned and the race was long over, or so everyone thought. In fact, other Track and Field Events were being held in the infield of the Olympic Stadium. During one of the other events, the reporters on duty noticed the crowd slowly beginning to cheer. At first, they couldn’t figure out why? Gradually, the crowd got louder and louder and eventually everyone in the stadium rose to their feet to cheer. The reporter finally noticed that a lone Marathon runner had entered the stadium, hours after the Medal winners had finished, to begin his final journey around the Olympic track to complete the race.
The runner was limping into the stadium and even stumbled a couple of times. The crowd cheered even more loudly, all for a lone Marathon runner that had no chance of winning. After what seemed like an eternity, the lone runner finally crossed the finish line and collapsed from exhaustion.
What struck me most about this event was the conversation after the race between a Reporter and the Marathon runner. The reporter asked, “why did you go through all the agony and pain to cross the finish line in a race that you had absolutely no chance to win?” The runner answered, “my Country did not send me all of these thousands of miles to ENTER the race; they sent me here to FINISH the race.”
How appropriate is this analogy for our own lives? I know there have been times when I have been ready to give up. There have been times that I wanted a quick fix and wasn’t patient in waiting for God’s timing. I would suspect most of us have been in this same situation, or maybe you are now?
As Christians, we are charged with the responsibility to fight the good fight. You may not be the best at what you do. You may not be the fastest at what you do. You may not have the best education. You may not have the best abilities. However, in God’s eyes you are a unique and special creation. To quote the Marathon runner, God did not put us on this Earth simply to enter the race. HE placed us here to finish our race. If you are in a place in your own life where you face discouragement, I encourage you to carry on with God’s strength; don’t give up; and finish the race.