Finishing the Race

Cliff Young

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith; (2 Timothy 4:7 NKJV)

We all want to finish the race well, yet some will and some will not. The Apostle Paul lived well, and therefore, he finished well.  

Cliff Young, a sixty-one-year-old farmer from Australia, entered the 544-mile inaugural Sydney to Melbourne Ultramarathon Race in 1983. 

He showed up for the race wearing overalls, a white t-shirt, and work boots, while the other runners wore promotional running attire. The other runners laughed and made fun of him. He runs at a deliberate pace, and at the end of the first day, he is well behind the pack. He did not know that the other runners stopped at the end of the first day and slept for six hours. Young kept right on running. No one was laughing at the end of the race on the fifth day. Young won the race with a ten-hour lead. When asked how he trained for the race, he said he had once run straight for two to three days, chasing and herding his sheep. The other runners were younger and faster than Young but lacked one thing Young had determination. The key to Cliff Young’s success was that he didn’t know when the other runners stopped to rest.

There is much Christians can learn from the life of Cliff Young. He did not just show up one day and win the race. His whole life was preparation for this race. As Christians, we will not finish the race if unprepared for it. Early every day, when others are asleep, do we arise to feast on God’s Word and bask in his presence? Is our mindset one of a soldier or a tourist? Paul instructed his young disciple Timothy; No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier (2 Timothy 2:4). God has called us to a battle and not a picnic. As anyone who understands spiritual warfare, do we dawn the armor of God? When others are distracted by the cares of this world, are we on our faces praying for a sick and dying world? God’s army is the only fighting force in the history of the world that has won the battle on its knees.

One final thing that we can learn from Cliff Young is why we run the race. The 10,000-dollar prize money for winning the race, Young divided the money with others who had finished the race. He kept nothing for himself. Young ran for the pure pleasure of running. We must run our race for the sheer joy of serving the Master, the Lord Jesus, and blessing others. 

When others quit, we must keep running. At times the race does seem to be long and hard. On those occasions, we must keep our eyes on the prize. The Lord Jesus is just across the finish line. Like Theresa of Avila once said, “When Jesus plants that first kiss on the back of your neck, all your trials will seem like one night in a bad hotel.” 

My brothers and sisters, will you fight the good fight and finish the race?

The images is used with permission by Microsoft.

Ken Barnes is the author of “Broken Vessels” published in February 2021, and “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”, published by YWAM Publishing in 2011.

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