Updated: Oct 1, 2022
Sergio came from Brazil and stayed with my family in Penticton for the Ultraman endurance challenge. It is a gruelling three-day ultra-distance event where the triathlete swims, bikes, and runs the equivalent of several Ironman races. The race covers five hundred and fifteen km—a 10 km swim, 421 km of cycling, and 84 km of running.
Sergio had to complete several Ironman competitions to qualify for the Ultraman. He had a crew of three adults to help him, however, if any of the support team abandoned Sergio the race would be over for him. He would have been disqualified.
But, Sergio did something shocking when he was almost at the finish line. I couldn't believe it. He stopped. He started to high-five the crowds and celebrate. He seemed to have lost sight of the fact that he had to cross the finish line to be officially finished. Other athletes ran past him. Some of the crowd of witnesses screamed, "Run!!! Don't stop now!!!" That seemed to snap him out of his euphoric reverie and he continued to run.
I believe we are in the gruelling race called life and we are on the home stretch. The finish line is in view. "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) Isn't it incredible to think a multitude of people—a great cloud of witnesses—are cheering us on? How amazing to think Heaven is applauding us.
It's not time to stop. There is a prize for all who finish well. The only way we can successfully run this race of life is by fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. If you are tired of the race (I sometimes am) ask Jesus to renew your strength. He promises if we wait on Him we will renew our strength. We will soar on wings like eagles; we will run and not grow weary, and walk and not faint. What a beautiful promise from Isaiah 40:31.
So don't quit. "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize..." (1 Corinthians 9:24) There is a crown of life—a victor's crown— waiting in Heaven for all who finish this race well—for those who persevere under trials and don't give up. (James 1:12)
"...And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:2-3) I pray you will look to Jesus for strength and courage for your race.
Even after stopping for about five minutes to celebrate, which seemed like an eternity to the crowd trying to get him to keep going, Sergio came in fifth out of thirty-some athletes.
This is a photo of my friend, Elaine, a beautiful (inside and out) triathlete. She stayed with me while she trained for Ironman. It was cancelled two years in a row—but she persisted—and the third year—this year—finished the race. I hope you meet her one day at the finish line in Heaven. You'll love her.
So—don't give up! You're almost in the winner's circle. You'll be amazed at the rejoicing and welcome you'll receive at the end of your earthly race. I am rooting for you! Give it all you've got. Live your life fully for God. I hope to see you at the finish line. Blessings, Beloved of God.