It was 2015, the Pepsi Team Invitational track and field event. Oregon, Kentucky, and Washington were three of the colleges that participated in this event. During the Men’s 3K steeple race, a runner from Oregon named Tanguy Pepoit was running a great race. As he rounded the final turn towards the finish line he knew that he had the race won. He began to celebrate his victory as he cruised towards the finish line. He was just a few feet away from the 1st place pedestal when he was passed by Meron Simon from Washington. Meron finished exactly one-tenth of a second before Pepoit. Pepoit’s victory was quickly erased because he slowed up and celebrated too early.
So what happened to Pepoit? It’s simple, he thought that he was so far ahead in his race that he could cruise to victory and still get the reward.
Our walk with Christ can be the same as a race. From the time we begin our life with Christ, at baptism, we begin the race. For years we train to live our life in a Christlike way. For years and years, we follow God and do as we are commanded. We try to live a life that is pleasing to Him so we can spend eternity with Him.
Then, there are many people who we see that run God’s race in full force and serve as great mentors to the youth. As they grow older, they begin to ease up on the race. Many quit attending worship, quit spreading His word, and often times fall away from the church altogether.
They simply believe that they have done so much good in their past for Christ that they can just throw in the towel and cruise their way to victory.
A few years ago, I had a conversation with someone at their home. I was trying to encourage this person that they needed to get back into the church, find a church family, and get involved again. The response I received was, “I have done a lot in the past to help people and have done great things for God and others.” To this day, that person has not been involved in a church family.
Running the race and slowing down at the end is a good way to lose the race altogether. What good is it to live for Christ for so long and then as you get older you slack off and wind up losing out on the ultimate gift.
God cares about the entire race, not just the beginning, and he surely cares about the end.
As it is stated, Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven”. Not everyone who starts the race will finish the race and get the prize. Unfortunately, not everyone will get a participation trophy.
Peter walked on the water when he had his focus on Jesus. The second he lost his focus on Jesus, he started sinking. Jesus was there to lift him back up and guide him to safety.
If you are one who has put your Christian walk on cruise control and believes that you have done enough in the past to get you into Heaven, you have lost focus on what Christ wants us to do. Losing focus will cause you to sink. Like Peter, Jesus is there to pick you up and bring you back so you can spend eternity with Him. You have to make the decision to come back to Christ fully. Keep your faith strong.
In the end, we want to be the one saying, 2 Timothy 4:7, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
God is Good.