This morning I learned about John Stephen Akhwari a former Tanzanian marathon runner. He was an athlete in the 1968 Summer Olympics held in Mexico City. While competing in his marathon race, the high altitudes of the city caused him to endure many obstacles. He took a fall that dislocated a knee joint and impacted his shoulder. Even with this injury, he continued to run. With a setting sun and a mostly empty stadium, he crossed the finish line 1 hour and 5 minutes after the first-place finisher.
When later interviewed, he was asked why he continued running. He said, “my country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race; they sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race.”
This story made me think of 2 Timothy 4:7, 8.
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.
We know that God has on this earth to run the marathon of life. He did not create us to just start a race, nor to just enjoy scenic tour. He created us to run for him, with a purpose, representing Him as John Stephen Akhwari represented his country. Your marathon may be difficult. You may not be running in your favorite environment, you may endure health issues, you may have fans that are discouraging, and you may have fellow racers that are mean. I know you feel like quitting, but keep running to that finish line. Your Lord and King will be proud.
My favorite part of the text above is that the reward does not just go to the first three finishers. There is a reward for every finisher. As you’re running, you may feel way behind everyone else or you may feel like you don’t even belong in the race. It’s good to know that God is not judging skill, he is judging endurance and faithfulness to finish.
Just keep running!