Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Are You Running Too Fast To Win?

Dear Friends,

The description of the first Christian church tells us that “..those who believed were of one heart and one soul.”Acts 4:32-33 The early church was spiritually united by their belief in Christ and intentionally united by their commitment to each other. They had become a family. A church family is there to love and care for each other and help one another. That’s why we call ourselves New Hope Family Church. Yet in today’s fast-paced life we too often find ourselves running through life so quickly that we never even stop to check on our family members. I know how easy that is to do. Racing along in life, I sometimes get a nudge from the Lord that I need to slow down and look around. In my rush to get to where I’m going, I may have blindly passed by someone who needs my help.

There was a 5k race that was held two years ago in Michigan. 19 year old Lance corporal Myles Kerr was on leave from Camp Pendleton and had gone home to visit family. On the day of that 5k race, he was running with some Marine buddies and they were all wearing their boots, fatigues and carrying a full backpack. When the Marines reached the finish line, Myles was no longer with them. His buddies started to worry because they thought he must have been injured along the way.

Here’s what happened. Nine year old Boden Fuches was also in that 5k race. Boden was running with his own age group, but he started to struggle and was no longer able to keep up. He soon found himself alone and barely able to run. His parents were waiting for him at the finish line and if he dropped out in the middle of the race, he’d become lost in the crowds. 

At this point, Lance corporal Myles passes Boden and sees that the little boy is struggling. He says to him, “Hey, little guy, are you all right?” And Boden looks at him and says, “Will you run with me?” And for the rest of the race, Myles never left Boden’s side and encouraged him every step of the way. The average time it takes to run a 5k race is 25 minutes. Nine year old Boden finished the race in 35 minutes 43 seconds. Marine Lance corporal Myles Kerr finished the race five seconds after Boden crossed the finish line.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:24 "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it." Life races are won, not by those who finish first, but by those who finish well. In a foot race, the goal is to pass everyone else and finish first to win the prize. Other runners and Boden’s friends had all passed him by and never looked back. They were running as fast as they could. But one man looked back, saw a struggling little boy and so he started running as slowly as he could. Because in a life race it’s not about how fast we’re going, it’s about how well we’re running.

Sometimes in our family at home and in our family at church we also need to slow down and look back. When we’re frantically running through life trying to get to someplace else, we can pass by a family member or Christian brother or sister and not even notice that they may be struggling with something. Sometimes we need to slow down, look at a loved one or friend and say, “Tell me how you’re doing.” And sometimes we need to quit worrying about how to get to where we’re going, and just walk with someone else to help them get to where they’re going.

A theology professor said that there are really only two options to us in our relationships with others. We can exclude people, maintain our distance and shut them out of our life. Or, we can embrace people, take them by the hand, do life with them and open our heart to them. I know too many people who have shut out and shunned family members. I’ve been in way too many church families who have shut out their Christian brothers and sisters. Sometimes, we need to slow down and look around us. Is there someone in your personal family or church family who is struggling? Someone you just need to walk with for a while? 

Embrace people. Take them by the hand. Do life with them. Open your heart to them. God’s grace is renewed every day. That means that every morning when you wake up, you have a fresh chance to make a difference in another person’s life. There will be a day when you pass over the finish line and come face to face with Jesus. He’s not going to be auditing your to-do lists. He won’t be reviewing your worldly accomplishments and counting your trophies. There is no clock – no timer – at the finish line of life. When we’re standing before Jesus, it’s all about how well we ran the race and who we helped along the way. Amen?

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