Finish Strong

May 6, 2024, will mark the 70th anniversary of someone doing something that was considered impossible. British medical student Roger Bannister ran a mile in under four minutes. Just 46 days later, Australian John Landy also ran a sub-four-minute mile. On August 7, Bannister and Landy faced each other in the one-mile competition, dubbed “The Miracle Mile,” at the British Empire games in Vancouver. It would mark the first time two runners in a race ran a mile in less than four minutes. Bannister won, and how he finished first is a great story. Landy led until the final curve, at which point he turned left to gauge Bannister’s position. Bannister took the opportunity to overtake him on his blind side and he edged out a victory over Landy with a time of 3:58.8 minutes. Competitive runners have known for centuries that a strong finish is often the key to victory. The Apostle Paul knew it. That’s why he used the metaphor of a runner finishing strong to urge us not to grow weary in our faith walk:

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (NV)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV)

The writer of Hebrews shows us the perfect model for this finish strong mentality—Jesus:

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)

One stands out conspicuous above all the rest … the Man who first perfectly realised the idea of living by faith … , who undauntedly endured the bitter suffering of the cross, and despised the ignominy of it, sustained by a faith that so vividly realised coming joy and glory as to obliterate the consciousness of present pain and shame. A.R. Bruce

There are days in our faith lives when we all grow weary. Perhaps it’s the struggles of this sin-filled world, health, finances, relationships. Or perhaps it’s being mocked and ridiculed for your belief in Who Jesus is. Perhaps it’s actual physical fatigue. Even Jesus needed to pray to the Father as His death grew near. If you’re waiting for a breakthrough of any kind, health, financial, spiritually in another person, stay strong, stay faithful. If not in this world, your reward will come in the next. Remember what Jesus endured for you. He finished strong to provide the grace you need to finish strong.

Pastor Jerry Bader

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