I have finished the race, I have kept the faith — 2 Timothy 4:7
Before the modern Olympics, there was something called the Panhellenic Games. Composed of four sporting festivals, the Panhellenic Games were like the Super Bowl, the Final Four, and the Stanley Cup all rolled into one. Contestants engaged in Chariot racing, wrestling, boxing, poetry contests, and running events.
Footraces were central to the games and ranged in length from mere meters to many miles. Most of the races were held in a stadion– the ancient precursor to modern day stadiums. Some events had competitors sprinting once across the length of the stadion; others had competitors completing more than twenty laps. Regardless of the distance, the key to victory was pacing oneself correctly for the specific race.
As Paul approached the end of his life, he looked back over everything that had happened to him. Reflecting on it, he wrote to Timothy, his young understudy:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. –2 Timothy 4:7
As he pens these words, Paul draws on images from athletics. Life in Christ, as Paul knew well, is not a sprint once across the stadion; life in Christ is a marathon of many miles, many years.
Running the race of faith, however, is not exactly like the ancient Panhellenic Games. Life in Christ is not about public recognition or winning laurel wreaths as trophies. It’s about something bigger than personal success. Fighting the good fight, finishing the race, and keeping the faith is about God building his kingdom through you.
For Paul, running the race of faith meant traveling many miles to spread the Gospel. It meant preaching in synagogues throughout the Roman Empire and teaching the faith to a new Christ-followers.
For you, running the race of faith might look totally different. It may mean putting on a tie and being a godly man on the job. It might mean groggy mornings, waking up long before anyone else to provide for your family. It might involve something monumental that seems small, like gathering your children on your lap for prayer.
None of these seem like heroic victories. They are nonetheless victories–kingdom victories. And you get to help win them as you walk with God by faith.