Monday, January 25, 2010

Run the Race

Okay, I will admit it. I have football on the brain. Yes, yes.. my beloved Cowboys lost last week so were not contenders for the NFC Championship tonight. But I was rooting for my second favorite team, the New Orleans Saints. And they WON!

I knew that the Saints had never been considered one of the "great" NFL teams. What I didn't realize until this year was that they had never made a trip to the Super Bowl! One of the announcers tonight said "this team has been waiting 43 years to get here". Forty-three years! That is longer than I have been alive (ok, just barely). This evening I am so happy for all those players, coaches and fans. Fans who believed in this team through thick and thin, year after year. This team who, most acknowledge, truly helped to rally the spirit of New Orleans in the days and years following Hurricane Katrina.

As I celebrated their victory with them, I couldn't help but think of all those years "in between". How many times had the fans been disappointed yet again? No Super Bowl this time. Maybe "next year". And yet, they are recognized as some of the most loyal football fans anywhere. They never gave up on their team. Forty-three years. And look at them now. Having the moment of their lives and headed for football's biggest game.

I kept thinking of the apostle Paul saying, "I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith." (2 Timothy 4:7) The Saints haven't finished their race quite yet. But they certainly have fought the good fight...and kept the faith.

I also remembered my Beth Moore Bible study homework that I'd worked on tonight. In her study "Living Beyond Yourself", Beth writes: "In His sovereignty, God has chosen to do His work through us. If we miss our ministry, we will miss our entire purpose in remaining here... One day I will see my Savior face to face, and in His hands He will hold the assignments which were prepared for me in advance. Oh, how I pray I will hear Him say that I completed each one in the course of my lifetime."

Wow.. that was so powerful to me. Assignments that God wrote just for me.. prepared in advance (before I was even born!). I couldn't stop praying that this image would help sustain me on days when I get tired. On days when I get frustrated. On days when I feel like I just can't do anything right, or I just can't take another step. On those "why am I even here??" days. On days of sorrow, days of anger, days when I just hit a wall.

I want to keep running the race. I want to finish all those assignments. I want to keep the faith.

Beth also talked about keeping in mind that though situations may be painful for us, personally, God is working all together for "kingdom profit".. for the overall good of His kingdom. One day, we will get to see that no matter what we went through here on Earth, all was able to be used & woven together by God, for the good of his entire kingdom. Beth kept emphasizing that "the good is not always the easy". We'll get to see what happens when you don't give up. When you keep the faith. When you run the race.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perserverence the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, to that you will not grow weary and lose heart."-- Hebrews 12:1-3

I also noticed a commercial that aired during tonight's game. It stood out among the rest initially due to its quietness. As you probably know, most commercials airing during football games are anything but quiet and thoughtful. It was for Visa, and it was about Olympic speed skater Dan Jansen. It was the story of how he'd been inspired to the sport by his sister Jane. Jane passed away of leukemia the day that Dan Jansen was to skate in the 500m in the 1988 Olympics. He bravely skated anyway, as he'd promised his sister that he would win the gold medal for her. But it was not to be. Jansen fell in the 500m, and fell again a few days later in the 1,000m race, so was not able to win any medals.

He tried again in the 1992 Olympics, but came up short again and again. The 1994 Winter Olympics were Dan Jansen's final attempt to win an Olympic medal of any kind. He did win the gold, set a new world record in the process, and finally was able to dedicate his medal to his late sister. The sweetest part of the victory, as shown in the commercial, was when Jansen got to skate his victory lap with not only his gold medal, but with his baby daughter... Jane.

Don't ever give up. Fight the good fight. Keep the faith. Run the Race.

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."-- 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

1 comment: