Think of what he went through; how he put up with so much hatred from sinners! So do not let yourselves become discouraged and give up.
-- Hebrews 12:3
Some call it the most remarkable spectacle in Olympic history.
The year was 1992, and 65,000 cheering fans packed the stadium in Barcelona, Spain, for the Men's 400-meter race. This was Derek Redmond's second attempt for a medal. Four years earlier at the Seoul, Korea, games, an Achilles tendon injury forced him to drop out only minutes before the contest.
The race started well this time, with Derek--the British record holder--quickly taking the lead. But only 175 meters from the finish line, his right hamstring gave way. Derek began to hop and then slowed down before finally collapsing on the track. Medical personnel rushed to his aid to remove him on a stretcher. But with tears in his eyes, Derek refused to let his dream die.
"No," Derek told them. "I'm going to finish my race."
He slowly rose from the track and hobbled in pain toward his goal. Jim Redmond, Derek's father, began pushing his way through the crowded stands as soon as he saw his son pull up lame.
"That's my son," the elder Redmond yelled to the bewildered security guards. "And I'm going to help him."
With 65,000 fans giving the pair a tremendous standing ovation, Jim Redmond did just that. He helped his son--painful step by painful step--round the track and cross the finish line.
Is it hard to relate to so much drama? Maybe it's easier than you might think. After all, Jesus never said that our faith-journeys would be smooth and pain-free. In fact, He told His followers that taking the easy way out means guaranteed disaster.
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it," Jesus explained. "But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
Jesus is this narrow gate. And there's no other way to victory over pain, sorrow and death except by placing our faith and walking with Him.
The Christ-follower's faith-journey is full of the twists and turns of life--some pleasant and surprising--but many painful and sad. And at the end is the finish line of our existence here on earth. But unlike the finish line on that Olympic track in Barcelona, ours is actually the beginning to a joyous, eternal existence with God.
In this race called life, some are just clearing their first hurdle while others are on the home stretch. Wherever you are, ask God to help you cross the finish line to victory. The reward will be far greater and last much longer than any gold-plated medal or standing ovation.