Run Through The Tape

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.”

1 Corinthians 9:24

I ran track growing up and my dad always told me to run through the tape and to never stop at the finish line. As a track official my dad spent years as a field judge, a timer and ultimately a starter at some of the most prestigious track and field events around the country including the Olympic Games. He saw many races lost within hundreds of a second simply because the person who thought they had won let up at the end.

That memory came to mind yesterday while I was having lunch with a friend from our church who has served the Lord along side me since I was the youth pastor back in the early 90’s and our discussion turned to celebration when we considered how long we have been running our spiritual race side by side. There is a deep satisfaction you get in life simply by sticking together. As we reminisced our years together in ministry, I shared with my friend that it would have been my dad and moms wedding anniversary that day which only solidified the thought. Though my parents are in heaven now the day is still very special in our family as its a fond memory. It’s especially meaningful to my brother and sisters and I because using a track metaphor, our parents, “ran through the tape” and finished well with regard to their marriage relationship. Married for nearly sixty years, their’s, like many marriages had its struggles and trying times but they always got back up, dusted themselves off and refocused on the goal of the prize, “until death do us part.”

Not only did my parents marriage last, it was still growing closer as time went on. On more than one occasion in the last few years of their lives my dad would say of my mom, “she’s my best friend” as he came to appreciate how she stood by him and cared for him throughout the years. The words of Solomon from Ecclesiastes 9:11 come to mind when I think about my parents anniversary, “I returned and saw under the sun that— The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all.” Like the Christian faith, marriage is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. It takes patience, endurance and a whole lot of grace to make it to the end.  

In the New Testament Jesus gives the same admonition to the church that my dad use to give me regarding running track. My dad would say, “run through the tape” where as Jesus exhorts you and me “go the extra mile.” In Matthew 5:14 Jesus instructed His disciples, “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.” Jesus was telling His disciples to go beyond what the law required, and to demonstrate God’s grace. Grace will always take you further than the law ever could. It’s living by grace and being motivated by grace that will allow you and me to finish our own race strong, to run through the tape as it were.

So how do we finish our race well you might be thinking today? How do I keep running my race all the way through the tape? Don’t stop running until you reach Jesus! Imagine yourself running your race and leaning into the tape and then Jesus taking you in His arms in celebration. Its not what place you come in that counts, even if you have fallen you can get back up and run through the tape. Don't look back, don't look around, just run from this day forward with your eyes fixed on the prize, and the prize being Jesus!

“I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:14


Michael Osthimer





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