We live in a world in which sport of every kind whether it’s golf, football/soccer, rugby, cricket, and athletics enjoy a high profile. The Apostle Paul says “bodily exercise is of some benefit, but Godliness with contentment is of greater gain”. Paul’s words remind us about priority, if you are able to exercise, it is good to do so, within your limitations.

At the 1968 Olympic Games held in Mexico City, Tanzania was represented in the marathon by John Stephen Akhwari. Part way through the race, Akhwari fell and was injured. He decided to get bandaged up and continue, which he did, finishing in last place over an hour behind the other runners.

When interviewed later Akhwari was asked “why did you bother to get up and finish the race” to which his reply was “my country didn’t send me to Mexico to start the race, they sent me to finish”. What a lovely perspective. You see, Akhwari could have stopped running, he was injured, he could not have won a medal position, so no one would have faulted him, but he decided to keep going.

Have you ever felt you couldn’t keep going? Perhaps a situation in life injured you, maybe other people have hurt and or disappointed you, do you feel you have failed the Lord in some way, perhaps you made a poor decision and think He won’t forgive you? The race of life, just like Akhwari’s marathon run, is not always smooth.

There can be a tendency for Christian believers to feel difficult circumstances must be an indication of sin in their lives, or that they have displeased and or failed the Lord. While this may be so at times, we need to remember the varied, changing and indeed difficult circumstances of life are common to everyone and the Lord Jesus reminds us “the rain falls on the just as well as the unjust”

To keep going in our Christian experience there are simple things we can do: –

KEEP PRAYING – the Lord Jesus loves to hear us speak to Him and He loves us even if we are injured or feel we can’t go on, tell Him what has happened and why or how you feel, pray even when you don’t feel like it. Jesus encouraged His disciples “men ought always to pray and faint not” these words of Jesus do not mean we need to leave aside all the demands and responsibilities of life and devote our time only to prayer, these words speak about being in an attitude of prayer, for example, you can be in prayer as you carry out household chores; you can be in prayer as you travel to work, or even if you train in the gym. It is especially good to meet with others for prayer and even if in those situations you do not pray audibly, listening to others pray and being in agreement with their prayers can encourage and strengthen your own soul.

KEEP READING – an old song for children has the words “read your Bible pray every day if you want to grow”. I believe we need to see God’s word as in our Bible less as a book to be read but as food to be digested. We eat food to satisfy our appetite and maintain our physical strength and God’s word is food for our souls and spiritual life. The Lord will speak to you through His word, very often by reminding you of some truth you already know, or the application of a verse of scripture in specific circumstances, listen to what He says, even if it means you must change in some way.

KEEP MEETING – “not avoiding worshipping together as some do but spurring each other on” (Hebrew 10 v 25 Message version) how interesting that a purpose in meeting together is to spur each other on, this has the sense that we are all running in the race and cheering each other to keep going. We don’t have a blinkered vision, we know men and women are flawed and sometimes sadly, we don’t live in love as we ought. Paul was encouraging the Hebrew believers as the Message version puts it to “see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out” now there is a real challenge — Paul is basically saying find new ways (inventive) to encourage loving and helpful relationships – have you got any new ideas?. Meeting in fellowship together gives you an opportunity to share your burdens with other believers who can help you make a decision to keep going.

As a church fellowship at Abbots Cross we hold a weekly prayer gathering, Bible study and Sunday services, these are all opportunities for believers to meet together to help us keep going, to encourage one another, the objective of all we do is to reach out in Jesus name to help people keep going in body, mind and spirit.

From a Christian perspective, it may be the finish line is not far away, we believe the return of the Lord for His people the church is closer than it has ever been, so, even if you need to get back on track, get started and keep going.

Brian Bell