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Finishing Well

One of my favorite aspects of the Olympics is the human interest stories the network produces on many of the competing athletes. If the athlete being spotlighted has had to endure personal struggles and challenges to make it to the Olympics, I often find myself getting caught up in that personís situation and cheering for that athlete during his or her event(s).

During the 2012 Summer Olympics, I watched a segment the first Sunday morning about a Kenyan woman who, at the time, was participating in the womenís marathon race through the rainy streets of London. Once again my heart strings were pulled by her circumstances, and I so wanted to see her win the gold. In the end, she earned the silver medal, finishing just 5 seconds behind the gold-medal winner.

While watching her finish, I couldnít help but make application to the interest our God the Father has in each of our circumstances. So many people have a negative view of God, thinking of Him as a task master who is always judging and waiting to punish us if we get out of line. While He is a God of judgment, He is also a very loving, caring God who takes personal interest in every aspect of our lives.

Just as I get drawn into the personal lives of Olympians and cheer them on, God is drawn into our personal lives and cheers us on. He knows each of us intimately, and He loves everyone equally. Instead of being the stern, unsympathetic God many consider Him to be, I often view Him as my biggest cheerleader. He knows my struggles and He knows my weaknesses. So, when it comes to the challenges of striving to live for Him in an ungodly, corrupt environment, there is no one on my side like He is. He wants me to succeed because it brings Him glory when I do.

Athletes on the track make me nervous when they look backwards and donít keep their eyes focused on the finish line ahead. They tend to slow down and lose momentum when they do that, quite often allowing other runners to come dangerously close to catching up or passing them by. Unlike the Olympics, in the race of life there are no other competitors. Itís just me, with God running alongside supporting me and cheering me on. So, if I donít finish well, I have only myself to blame, not God. My lack of accomplishment will be due to my lack of effort, or my failure to keep my eyes on the source of my strength, Jesus Christ. When I look back towards my past, or get distracted by those on the sidelines or other pursuits, that causes me to take my eyes off the goal of pleasing my Lord.

To God, I am a human interest story, and so are you. He is in the midst of our circumstances, and He is cheering for us. But itís not me against you, or you against me. Our race is singularly measured by how well each of us accomplishes our purpose for being created, which is to bring Him pleasure. (Revelation 4:11)

Lastly, I can assure you that the Olympic gold, silver and bronze medals of this world are dull and worthless compared to the eternal riches and rewards our Heavenly Father has promised us for running a faithful race here on earth. So let us press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us. (Philippians 3:14)

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