Finishing last is still finishing.
I can't walk as fast as my wife. Her shorter, more muscular legs can churn out a 13:30 minute per mile pace (below 13:00 minutes when she trains). When I try to match her step for step I get shin splints. My longer legs just don't fare well. So, it is always an admirable feat when my wife walks a 5K, 10K, or 1/2 marathon with me. Obviously, I can run a little faster than she can walk, but I am always so proud of her. She will often finish ahead of folks who run the distance. She is a warrior.
Yesterday, we were in the Big Valley participating in a 10K and the crowd of roughly 40-50 runners assembled. We received a gun start and were off. The views in the valley were absolutely stunning. The crisp morning air, the brilliant sunshine, and the idyllic farmland was all working for us. Through 6.2 miles I was able to pass a few folks. There were several I tried to catch but never could reel them in. At race end, I had hit my goal and finished well down the list of competitors, but I did finish and didn't have to walk during the 6.2.miles.
As I doubled back the course, I was looking for two familiar people. Descending the last hill and looking to the right, I saw my wife and her friend speed walking their way to the finish line. The ambulance support vehicle was following close behind to signify the last two participants. At about the 5.5 mile mark, I joined Tracie and Marie and we walked/ran that last 7 tenths of a mile. We laughed and enjoyed the scenery. We waved to some Amish children as they sat in their front yard. It was a good day.
While some may roll their eyes and say condescending remarks about walkers in a footrace, I think it is a tribute to a mentality that says, "I may not be fast, but I am steady and I will conquer this obstacle."
It matters not what lies in front of us. If God calls us to serve in ministry (He does, in case you were not clear on that part.) it is our responsibility to serve with as much vitality as we can muster. We won't always be as fast, strong, or talented as the next person, but we have gifts to use. As a follow up to yesterday's post about rebuilding our country, this post encourages us to make it happen.
To rationalize and say things like:
* I am not responsible for fixing our country
* I am not gifted to fix my country
* I don't care about my country
* I am too busy
makes you part of the dysfunction and not parts of the solution.
Jesus called Saul of Tarsus (became Paul after his encounter with Jesus) to minister and serve in God's Kingdom. Paul turned his life over to God and said in Romans 12:1-2 that he would become a living sacrifice for God. When he transformed his scope from having status and power to one of servant, Paul became the most influential apostle in history. Listen to his allegiance to Christ here in Acts.
"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 grace." (Acts 20:24, NIV)
One of the main reasons Paul was the most influential apostle in history is because he never quit halfway through the race. He ran the best he could with what God had given him and it was enough. What gift has God given you that you are using? What gift has God given you that you have stuffed under a carpet somewhere? Enter this race and listen intently to God's call. Your God needs you to engage. God needs your acts of love and mercy. God needs your faithful witness of grace and forgiveness. Take great satisfaction in staying the course and finishing well.