Finishing the race


“ I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

Surely the Tour de France is the greatest race on earth, and the most taxing fight that a human body can withstand. It beggars belief that people can actually endure such laborious hardship over the space of three weeks. The daily races are over one hundred miles and cover the most grueling of conditions, through all weather, mishap and injury.

Just because you start does not mean that you will finish and the end point is a long, long way, over mountains, dangerously narrow roads, back-breaking switchback climbs and the tedium of the endless highway. Supporters will shout, jump out at you, pour water over you and get in the way. The psychological pressure is not for the faint hearted, and the determination to carry on and finish is the fuel that drives the racers forward.

The threat of accident and injury is never far away, as the human body is so exposed and unprotected to the surface of the road, and delicate bones are easily broken on the unforgiving asphalt. There is no way of predicting trouble and if one rider goes down, then so will many others, to the dismay of the fainthearted.

In horror we watched as a race support car veered into a cyclist, who went over the handlebars and onto the road. But the man on the bike next to him was not so fortunate, but was catapulted sideways, landing on a barbed-wire fence.

The razor-sharp edges, cut his flesh to ribbons and bled profusely. He untangled himself and got straight back on his bike and joined the race. No help, attention or self-pity. Later we saw the right buttock that had taken the punishment for the waltz with the fence, and there were furrows of open wounds, which needed thirty five stitches to keep the blood in and the germs out.

Something caused this rider to divert his mind and sense to over-ride the pain and gore. What was so important that he switched off the natural inclination to protect himself and to just keep going? He wanted to finish the race. The rider was in the race of his life, the toughest and most glorious race of all, and he was determined to cycle over the finish line, no matter what.

There is something so noble about this kind of attitude, and so much it can teach us about our own attitudes and stamina. What will deflect me? What will stop me giving in and giving up?

Everyone has difficulties and the troubles of life are all too familiar to us. Yet we all have to run the race set before us. What will motivate me to carry on, even when it is painful and disappointing? Do I have personal resources to overcome all I will meet?

The truth is, we don’t. Another rider in the Tour was involved in a crash, he broke his collar bone, and was forced to leave the race for the year. It wasn’t his fault, it tuned out that way. Some situations just cannot be revoked. He will have to wait until next year…

Whatever life thows at me, as these brave cyclists, I want to keep pedalling and focused on my purpose and end point to which I am heading. I want to follow the purpose and determination of the Apostle Paul, who did fight and finish, in the strenght of Christ, and his faith was proved true right to the end of his race.

“ I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)


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