Faithfulness to God

Posted: September 1, 2011 in Discipleship, Pastoral Ministry

In 1983, Australia hosted its ultramarathon, a 573.7 mile foot race from Sydney to Melbourne. This race takes days to run, and professionals from all over the world come to participate. Shortly before the race began, a 61-year-old farmer named Cliff Young, wearing overalls and goulashes over his boots, walked up to the registration table and requested a number to enter the race. The people at the registration table deadpanned incredulously at Young. However, Young insisted, “No, I’d really like to run.” So they gave him a number and pinned it on his overalls.

Young walked over to the start of the race. All the other professional runners, decked out in all their running regalia, looked at him like he was crazy. The crowd snickered. They laughed even more when the gun went off and the race began, because all the other competitors ran with beautiful strides, but not Young. He didn’t even run like a runner and ran with an awkward, goofy-looking shuffle. All through the crowd people laughed, and finally, someone called out, “Get that old fool off the track!”

Five days, 14 hours, and four minutes later, at 1:25 in the morning, Young shuffled across the finish line of the 573.7 mile ultramarathon. He had won the race – not by a matter of minutes or even an hour or two. The second place runner finished nine hours and 56 minutes after Young. He had set a new world record for the ultramarathon. The press mobbed him wondering what kind of special running shoes he must have had. Wondering what he eaten during the race, they rummaged through his backpack to discover that Young had lived primarily on pumpkin seeds and water. Then they discovered the secret to his success: Cliff Young had shuffled his way to victory without ever sleeping. The other runners would run for 18 hours straight, and then stop and sleep for three or four hours. He endured running five days, 14 hours, and four minutes at the age of 61.

In the race we run – the ultimate ultramarathon called life – we must continue to the end with faithfulness. Faith in Christ begins the Christian life and we must endure until Jesus calls us to be with Him in glory. We should encourage one another to keep our focus on Jesus and away from any distractions. The Hebrews writer said it like this, “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” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

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