Running The Race, Clearing the Hurdles, Breaking the Record
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12: 1-2 ESV)
And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. (Revelation 20:12-15)
As I prepare to watch the Summer Olympics, my absolute favorite sporting event, I am reminded of a young athlete whose dreams of Olympic gold were tarnished by a world-class lack of talent. However, over Forty-five years ago, I set my high school record in the 180-yard low hurdles. For years, my name hung in perpetuity in our gymnasium along with all the other track & field record holders. To this day, my record has never been broken.
Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? But as the legendary radio personality Paul Harvey might suggest, it’s important that you know, “the rest of the story.” Following the year I set the record, the state of Virginia eliminated the 180-yard low hurdles from the standard order of Track & Field events. In other words, the year I broke the record, was the last year it was ever run, and thus impossible for it to ever be broken. Eventually, someone recognized that the 180-low hurdles were no longer an event, and my name was removed from the records.
Similarly, in this race called life, our path is staggered with hurdles, which often trip us up. Unlike track and field, however, hurdles in life can come up on you, when you least expect it. A tragic loss, the betrayal of a friend, a gut-wrenching medical diagnosis, and especially the hurdles of temptation, can cause us to stumble and fall. In 1 Corinthians, Chapter 9, the Apostle Paul writes, But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” In track & field, the term is DQed, which stands for Disqualified. It’s the worst thing that can happen in a track meet. It means you’re out of the race, and the words DQ written by your name, in the record book.
There’s an expression that states, “records are meant to be broken,” and it was actually a record that occurred a few years earlier than my meaningless record in the hurdles, that changed my life forever. In 1972, my record as a sinner, was broken. Unlike the barriers that stood before me on the track, the hurdles of sin could not be cleared through my own efforts. I could only clear those hurdles by acknowledging the sacrifice of my Savior Jesus Christ on the Cross, trusting Him to save me from my sins, and making Jesus the Lord of my life. When I did that, my record of sin was removed, and my name recorded in another record book. Revelation 20: 12-15 reminds all of us that everyone will stand before God and our final results will be recorded in the Book of Life. We will clear every hurdle and victoriously cross the finish line into Heaven, or we will be DQed.
Let’s encourage one another, and especially share Christ’s love with those running the race of life aimlessly. Let’s run with endurance and perseverance. Let’s put our faith in Christ, Who can lift us above the hurdles set before us, and let us break the record of our sin, crossing the finish line victoriously, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. God bless.