Philippians 3: 14-16
A Hare was making fun of the Tortoise one day for being so slow. “Do you ever get anywhere?” he asked with a mocking laugh.
“Yes,” replied the Tortoise, “and I get there sooner than you think. I’ll run you a race and prove it.”
The Hare was much amused at the idea of running a race with the Tortoise, but for the fun of the thing he agreed. So, the Fox, who had consented to act as judge, marked the distance and started the runners off.
The Hare was soon far out of sight, and to make the Tortoise feel very deeply how ridiculous it was for him to try a race with a Hare, he lay down beside the course to take a nap until the Tortoise should catch up.
The Tortoise meanwhile kept going slowly but steadily, and, after a time, passed the place where the Hare was sleeping. But the Hare slept on very peacefully; and when at last he did wake up, the Tortoise was near the finish line. The Hare now ran his swiftest, but he could not overtake the Tortoise in time. The Tortoise won the race. Slow and steady proved the best intent.
I have often felt as though I was a Hare who longed to be a Tortoise. My nature is to run and leap and bound; I am just full of energy all the time. The doctors may call it hyperactivity and a disorder, but I am fairly sure the whole world struggles, to some degree, with the same problem.
The problem is, I have changed and now I see this story in quite a different light. I have changed. My life is no longer anything like it was a year ago. The world has changed, and everything is different. Still, I feel as though I am a spiritual turtle surrounded by spiritual rabbits. I would see and hear about the chaplains, my peers, who all did and were such great things. Some were jumping out of planes, some were sliding out of helicopters, others were praying with generals and others were preaching at the best and most up to date chapels across the Army. For me, I was still counseling young soldiers and preparing staff slides for a battalion that rarely recognized I was there unless, there was a problem or a party that needed a prayer before supper. And even now I compete against ghosts who are no where near me and have no effect on my life. The human spirit is a strange thing O Lord.
If I am honest, I still tend to bounce around and be that spiritual rabbit zipping along as if I were having to prove myself to someone. But the truth is, I do not have anything to prove to anyone except Jesus who calls my name and who reminds me what race I am actually running.
In the 1980 movie, Chariots of Fire, Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams compete in the 1924 Olympics. Liddell is a Christian running for the glory of God and Abrahams is a Jew who runs to overcome prejudice and inequality. Both are good men running for different reasons. They both struggle with their faith and seek what is good and right for their lives. Liddell believes he is called by God to be a missionary in China like his parents and that God made him a runner and when he runs, he feels God’s presence. Both compete in the Olympics and win gold medals for their country. Liddell goes on to China and becomes a martyr for his faith.
I suppose that I feel the strain of pressing on towards the goal set before us as faithful Christians. And I suppose, the feeling of strain is one that turns many away from faith and back to the easy life, where we get off the track, boast of what think we are and nap like Rip Van Winkle until we have overslept and learn we lost the race we were running.
The words spoken to Abraham ring true for us all, he says stubbornly, “If I can’t win I won’t run.” And the reply from his girlfriend was, “If you don’t run you can’t win.” Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we are all running a race that is long and at times difficult. We must keep our eyes focused on the prize of salvation and remember that it is Christ Jesus who cheers us on from the sidelines. We are running this race for Him. So, lets run it to win.
Should you feel the urge to quit remember, the price that Jesus paid for us all and the prize we received for the stripes that he wore.