The race started with a shot from the starting gun. The runners emerged from their starting blocks sprinting as fast as they could, each jockeying for a position at the front.
Soon the field of runners thinned out and a clear front-runner emerged. He was moving fast and putting a lot of distance between him and second place. The other runners sprinted harder but couldn’t keep up with him.
It was a relay race with four members to a team. Each member would run a lap then hand an aluminum baton off to his next team mate each running a quarter of a mile. The team in first place kept pulling away despite the best efforts of the rest of the competitors. Soon there were 50 yards between the first and second place teams and it looked like the race was all wrapped up.
The third lap of the race began. The second place runner took his baton and started running hard. He looked ahead and saw the huge lead the first place runner had on him and he was tempted to just pull up and run easy. It didn’t look like there was any way he could catch up. He decided, however, to give it his best effort so he ran as fast as he could.
To his amazement, he started closing the distance. Soon the 50 yard lead was cut to 45, then to 40, then to 35. The first place runner seemed to wear out, not to have the strength he needed to keep going. It was still a huge distance to make up but the second place runner kept going.
His team mates noticed how much distance he had made up and they started cheering him on, yelling at the top of their lungs.
At the halfway point in his lap the second place runner overtook the leader and passed him easily. He finished his lap, handed off to the last runner on his team and sat back to watch as his team mate finished in first place.
Because of his persistence, his team received a blue ribbon and helped his school win not just the race but the whole track meet. He didn’t quit, he ran to the finished line, he gave everything he had for the whole race despite the fact that he was way behind at the beginning. He won the prize.
After a few years that blue ribbon faded and he eventually lost it.
The crown we are running for as Christians, though, will never fade, never be lost, and never be forgotten for it will last forever.
Run the race, don’t give up, keep your eye on the prize.
Believe God, that’s all he asks you to do, believe God and act on that belief. You will receive a crown that will never fade away.
Rob Morton is minister of First Christian Church Middlesboro. Contact him at [email protected]