The Greatest Race of All
By Paul Dailey
Those of you who remember the Back to the Future movie
trilogy of the mid-to late ‘80s may recall a scene toward
the end of Part II with Dr. Emmett Brown, or Doc. He
had traveled back in time from the 1950s to live out the remainder
of his years in the Old West as a blacksmith, scientist, and general
handyman. You may recall how he met Clara, the new schoolteacher
in town, and began to win her heart through his awkward charm
and knowledge of science, until a turn of events led to their
In a fit of depression, Doc wanders into the local saloon late
at night and has the bartender pour him a shot of whiskey. He
remains there all night long, spending hours upon hours with the
same drink still in his hand, telling stories of the future, while
the other patrons sit listening, amused by his description of
life in the 20th century.
He begins to explain to them about “auto-mo-biles.”
One old-timer asked him, “If everybody’s got one of
these auto-mo-whatsits, does anybody walk or run anymore?”
“Of course, they run,” Doc explains, “but for
recreation -- for fun.” At that, the old-timer replies something
to the effect of “Run for fun? What kind of fun is that?”
Every time I think of that line, it makes me chuckle because that’s
exactly how I feel about running.
As I was speaking to the teenagers at our church last night, I
wanted to relay one point to them. Whether or not we like it,
we are all running a race. Paul wrote in Acts 20:24,
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, 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
The Lord keeps telling me this over and over again. It doesn’t
matter how well I start the race of faith. Millions of people
start every day. What matters is how I finish. Anyone who has
ever completed the grueling 26.2 miles of a marathon will tell
you, every inch of those miles would be completely useless if
the runner doesn’t cross the finish line. Likewise, if while
running the race of life and fighting the good fight of faith,
we don’t see it through to completion, we have gained nothing.
That is where the grace of God comes in. It’s inevitable
that we will get tired. During his missionary travels, Paul encountered
many trials. This is how he recounts those experiences:
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the
hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under
great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we
despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence
But he continues in verse nine with these words,
…this happened that we might not rely on ourselves
but on God, who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1:7-9).
So if you are getting tired and you aren’t sure
you have the strength to go another step, if you feel like you
are almost dead, stop where you are, pull out your racing manual
(The Bible), and see what God says about being refreshed. If you
are tired, it is only because you have been trying to go on your
Even the great prophet Elijah needed nourishment from heaven
to endure his long journey (1 Kings 19:5-8). Turn to the Lord
in prayer and He will give you that cool drink of water that reinvigorates
you for one more mile. Psalm 121 promises you that God is watching
over you and He doesn’t get tired. He and His storehouse
for you are utterly exhaustless.
This race that God has given us to run is serious business. But
it doesn’t have to be such drudgery. Unlike the old-timer’s
sarcastic attitude, running can be fun. Who would argue that Jesus
ran the best race that could be run and He was more joyful than
anyone around Him? Obviously, He knew something about tapping
into the abundance of heaven to accomplish His work.
That same abundance is available to you, right where you are.
The grace of God is sufficient for you, but it can only be appropriated
to your life through faith. So don't get weary by looking at the
long race that's ahead of you. Look to Jesus and you will be able
to endure to the end. Remember Paul's words to us:
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing
with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).
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