The Tanzanian Marathon Runner
Let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us (Hebrews 12:1).
At the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, which Vonette and I attended, John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania started the Olympic marathon with all the other runners but finished it alone, and in last place.
Several miles into the race, Akhwari suddenly found himself trapped in the middle of some other runners. Unable to see well, he fell and hurt his leg horribly. He now knew he could not win a medal, but with great courage, he continued.
Long after the winners had finished and received their praise, this final runner entered the stadium. Sirens blared as this lone, weary and injured man entered. Only a few hundred spectators were left but as they realized this was a runner who was finishing long after all the others, they began to applaud, quietly at first, but it grew into a crescendo of applause. He took his lap around the track with his bandaged and bloody feet.
Though suffering from injury, fatigue, leg cramps, dehydration, and disorientation, Akhwari finally crossed the finish line.
When asked by a reporter why he did not just quit he answered, "My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me here to finish."
Have you ever watched a marathon race? The grueling 26-mile run is perhaps the most challenging of all track and field events. Elite runners will usually finish a marathon in just over two hours, while other runners may take up to five hours to finish the course. And in almost every marathon, there are runners who must drop out -- they cannot finish because their energy reserves are depleted.
The Bible compares the Christian life to a race. The apostle Paul said, "If only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me -- the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace" (Acts 20:24, NIV).
Hebrews 12: 1 says, "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" (NIV).
Like John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania, we may encounter many obstacles that can hinder us from even continuing the race, but like him, and Paul, let us continue to the finish line, before that great cloud of spectators. And let us "fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2, NIV).
God did not send us here just to start the race. He sent us here to finish.
Yours for fulfilling the Great Commission each year until our Lord returns,
The late Dr. Bill Bright was Founder and President/Chairman Emeritus of Campus Crusade for Christ, an organization which began as a campus ministry in 1951 and now has more than 27,000 full-time staff and up to 500,000 trained volunteer staff in 196 countries in areas representing 99.6 percent of the world's population. In the past 50 years, Campus Crusade for Christ has seen approximately 6 billion exposures to the gospel worldwide. The film, "JESUS," which Bright conceived and funded through Campus Crusade for Christ, is the most widely translated and viewed film of any type ever produced. Since its use began in 1980, the film has been translated into 839 languages and viewed or listened to by over 5.7 billion people in 228 countries. Dr. Bright was also the author of more than fifty books. Visit campuscrusade.com for more details
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