The anticipation of the opening gunfire for the race to begin was gut wrenching to say the least. The runner gets himself all strategically situated in the starting blocks and tunes in on the starting judge in hopes of having a perfect start. Even with an exceptional start it is still how you finish that will grade your performance. There must be a start for sure, but just because you start a race doesn’t make you a winner… only if you finish can you possibly win and receive the reward.
It’s not enough to just start strong; we must finish strong like Paul. – (Tweet)
Paul wrote at the end of his life to young Timothy giving every believer some incredible insights for us to live by. We read in 2 Tim 4:7-8, Paul says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day…”. He was referring to his journey of life as a race and fight, as he also did in his letter to the Corinthians. He says “I fought the good fight” insinuating that it isn’t easy but will take endurance and tenacity. Then Paul says, “I have finished the race. He didn’t quit because it was difficult or to long, but completed the course set before him. In Cor. 9 he says that we need to run not as a casual jog through a park, but run the race to win. He lets us know that there is a reward for all of us that finish the race of life keeping our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
In his tremendous book “Multiplication” Tommy Barnett gives a startling comparison of three young preachers. All of them were filling up auditoriums and having record crowds. Graham, Templeton, and Clifford launched out of the starting blocks like Olympic gold medalist in 1945.
Those that observed them thought the young man; Templeton would be the one who would make it to the top. Even a magazine wrote a feature article calling Templeton the “Babe Ruth of evangelism.” Clifford was a young fireball evangelist. Many thought that he was the most gifted and powerful preacher to come up in the church for many centuries. People lined up for hours to get into where he was preaching. Yet why haven’t we heard of Templeton and Clifford?
Well, in just five years, 1950 Templeton had left the ministry. He pursued a radio career. He became an announcer and a newscaster, telling the world that he no longer believed in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Can you believe this future “babe Ruth” of preaching was no longer even in the ball park. By 1954 Clifford had lost his family, ministry and health. Eventually he lost his life because of addiction to alcohol. Financial irresponsibility left his wife and their two Downs-syndrome children with no money. This once famous preacher didn’t even finish his race.
In the Christian life…it’s not how you start the race, but how you finish the race that matters. It’s not enough to just start strong; we must finish strong as Paul and the third young man did. His name, Billy Graham, has faithfully run his race keeping the faith for all these years! Even so, let me encourage you not to quit! But synch up your belt and commit to finish the race that God has set before you.