As I write this there is a lot of publicity landing on my desk re. the Olympic games later in this year and my mind turns to that scene in the Olympic games of 1992. If you remember it involved a British athlete running in the semi-final of the 400 metre race. Derek Redmond got off to a great start and was doing well when he suddenly fell with what was later discovered to be a torn hamstring. I remember the scene well for as he struggled to his feet other runners went past him, but he kept on hobbling and hopping forward with real pain etched on his face.
As the whole world watched we saw a man burst through the security guards and ran onto the track alongside Derek Redmond; it was his father who tried to persuade his son to give up, but on hearing of his sons determination to finish what he had started he gripped his son around the shoulders and the two of them limped painfully towards the finish.
Those who watched this on their televisions all around the world would have done what I did; joined with the stadium spectators and stood applauding and cheering at the determination of a brave athlete and the support of his father. One of the bravest scenes I`ve ever seen in sport. If like me you saw this then you were surely moved to tears and even as I write now about it I can feel the emotion coming back. Check it out on youtube if you cant remember it.
What has this to say to us ? It speaks of determination to complete that which we have begun. Its very easy within the Christian life to declare our faith and then slow up or stop because the going has got tough; because of decisions we don`t like or because of the people around us. When life is hard we need to keep journeying forward and recognising that we are not on our own. The letter to the Hebrews chapter 11 speaks of the invisible crowd of witnesses urging us on. We are encouraged by Heaven itself to keep going forward in our life with determination and perseverance.
But this memory also reminds me that in order to complete the race we need the help of our Father in Heaven, who speaks words of encouragement, who supports us when we fall, who holds us close in our tears and who, at times, carries us but always says to us “you can do this, we`ll finish the race together.”
We have a mighty, powerful Father who will not leave us alone and who will not encourage us to give up, but instead journeys with us. In that wonderful poem, “Footsteps” we have the picture of the footprints in the sand and of God carrying us. It focuses on the difficult times of life but in a similar poem (using the same imagery of footprints in the sand) it speaks of God dancing with us and I believe it is a mixture of both. We have a loving Christian family around us, and we have a loving Father in Heaven. They all dance with us in the good times and support us in the difficult times and in both help us to focus on finishing the race.
If you`re tempted to give up today, focus your eyes on Jesus, ask for help and keep going.