Finish with Joy
By Dan Qurollo
In the 1968 Olympics held in Mexico City, a runner named John Akhwari represented the small country of Tanzania. The marathon was an already difficult race since he was unable to train at such a high altitude. Nearly halfway through the marathon, he was hit as runners vied for position, causing him to fall. As he fell, he dislocated his knee and injured his shoulder. While many would have perhaps given up, John Akhwari pressed on. Over an hour after the winner had crossed the finish line, John slowly crossed the finish line. The sun had already set, and the crowd had mostly dissipated. A television crew was sent out from the medal ceremony as word came that one more runner was about to finish. A reporter asked him why he continued running. His answer was quite insightful: “My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race; they sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race.”
Difficulties abound along our race in life. At times, the course seems to be so full of obstacles and challenges that finishing seems to be little more than an elusive dream. But we are not merely called to start a race; God has left us here to finish the race He has for us.
Paul faced tremendous challenges throughout his earthly ministry. He describes many of them in 2 Corinthians 11:22-33. Despite all his challenges, Paul was determined to finish the course God had for him. Each of us is called to run our own race, not the race of someone else. We must resolve to finish our race. Paul expressed it perfectly when he wrote, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). At the end of his life, he looked back and said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
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