The Summer Olympics is inspiring. Consider the world’s fastest man as he comes off the block like his namesake: Bolt. The optical illusion of a race track makes it appear as though he’s behind until the lanes become straight and even. Like a gazelle, Usain Bolt floats effortlessly by his opponents; his feet are the first to cross the finish line. As he sprints to the end, a fist pound on his chest has become his trademark declaration to the all who are witnessing his greatness that he is not a quitter. He is a champion. In the blaze of Bolt’s glory, few of us make note of the runner who came in dead last or the one who may have stumbled. No one gives a second thought to the runner who never made it to the stadium, the one who lost steam and resigned themselves to watching and wishing from the comfort of their sofa. That runner exists in all of us, so does the champion. There’s a goal, a mission, a purpose, an assignment in all of us but sometimes distraction, delays, and disappointments make the finish line seem out of reach.
“You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?” (Galatians 5:7)
Apostle Paul offers a word of warning when he asks this question, forcing us to consider how in the pursuit of our faith and goals we sometimes get in our way. Focusing on past mistakes and old offenses can keep us from qualifying for the victory that’s already ours. Usain Bolt doesn’t run backward. No one climbs a mountain or soars to higher heights by looking back.
“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, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame…” (Hebrews 12:1-29)
Self-limiting beliefs and excuses can keep us from finishing the race, the very thing our God-given gifts and talents are calling us to do. Dwelling in the spirit of comparison, jealousy, and envy can also trip us up along the way. All that is required is to stay in our lane, run our race, at our pace. No sooner than we make peace with the pace of our journey, here comes seeds of doubt planted by the words (sometimes erroneously disguised as wisdom) from the mouths of our critics. We must be mindful of who is genuinely on our team, rooting for our arrival at the finish line. We must be mindful of those who only cheer when we fall.
The good news is: no matter how lonely the road, we’re never alone (Deuteronomy 31:8, Joshua 1:9) Yes, slow and steady wins the race, but faith in ourselves, our strength, our purpose, and the One who commands us to run on will gets us to the finish line every time. Get off the sofa of life; stopping sitting on dreams, plans, and goals and finish the race.