In the times that we live in, it is easy to drift away from the Lord and his direction in our life. We can get overcome by circumstances, disappointments and doubts. We can get caught up in theological debates, or trying to “do church” the right way, that we miss the basics. In our reaction against a system that can be abusive and controlling, we can easily enter into a state of self-centeredness and forget the call to reach those who have never heard the gospel, or have not heard the complete gospel of the Kingdom. The important thing is that we run and finish the race that our Lord has set before us.
Several years ago I heard this illustration (I forget the source, so I apologize if I get some of the details wrong.): During the Olympics in Mexico there was an amazing track and field event where a runner from Africa arrived to the finish line, which was in the stadium, long after the race was finished. He came limping into the stadium barely able to walk. He had fallen during the race and broken his leg. His arrival into the stadium was so late that everyone was packing up and cleaning. There were less than 1,000 folks left in the stands. The runner refused to stop and makes his last lap of the race around the stadium track. As he approaches the final turn, people stopped what they were doing and begin to applaud. Everyone left in the stadium gave him a standing ovation. Years later he was being interviewed about his experience in the Olympics. This runner, who was a poor farmer in Africa, was asked; “Why did you insist on doing that final lap around the stadium that day knowing that your leg was injured and you were the last to arrive, and it was very late? This humble African farmer answered; “My country did not send me to the Olympics to start and run a race, but to finish the race!”
Are we prepared to finish the race that the Lord has set before us? One of the portions of Scripture that speaks to me that helps me is that Psalm that is used many times in traditional services that speak a blessing over the congregation as a benediction. This is usually spoken at the end of a service, but it is really the Lords blessing over us as we are sent out with his blessing, his benediction! It reveals our Lord’s desire for his people. In these short seven verses God reveals his heart for the nations and his desire to involve you in the process by blessing you.
v.1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, Selah
The Lord give you grace and he blesses you like an affirming parent, looking at you with endearment. Why does he do this?
v.2 that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.
He blesses us so that His ways will be known on the earth, this includes all nations. The result of this promise or this blessing is found in verse 3.
v.3 May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you.
The nations will praise God because his kingdom has come to them. Will you reveal Jesus to them?
v.4 May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth. Selah
v.5 May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you.
When this is happening, great things happen! Harvest will come!
v.6 Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us.
v.7 God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him.
The race set before us is really the Lord’s race, and we run with Him to take his gospel to the nations and to our neighbors. He blesses us to be a blessing to the world around us, not forgetting the nations. Are we willing to finish the race regardless of how we perceive our condition, or our position in the race? As a proponent of simple, organic church life, let us not forget our Lord’s purpose for blessing us.
What should we do? Where to do we begin? This is something we do together with those we fellowship and serve. Do you need help finishing the race? That is why we need one another, provoking one another in love to do the Lord’s will. If you or your fellowship needs some help in this area, I would be glad to correspond with you or come to your group and talk about it. May you be blessed to reach those who do not yet know Jesus! You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Blessings to You!