Sweat dripped from my brow as I put one foot in front of the other. Will this hill ever end? I wondered. A swift young runner sped past me on his way to the finish line of this 5K race—the Camp Meeting 5K Cantor at the Gulf States Conference camp meeting. Soon others followed. “You’re almost at the halfway point,” they encouraged. Two little girls handed me flowers they’d picked. Leave it to children to understand the important things, I mused as I pinned their gift on the front of my shirt.
There it was! The halfway point! I turned and headed back down the hill (I’d like to say I flew, but that would be stretching the truth a great deal). I passed the water station, grabbed a refreshing drink of water, and was happy to listen to a few more words of encouragement.
I know, all of you runners are thinking, What’s the big deal? Five kilometers is nothing. But for this 60-something grandmother on a very warm, muggy, Mississippi morning, it was a big deal.
Now at last the final hill loomed ahead. I kept going, running alone. Most runners had passed me, but a few were still somewhere behind. This race is a lot like our spiritual life, I thought. “He who endures to the end will be saved,” Jesus promised in Matthew 10:22, NKJV.*
I remembered a literature evangelist I once knew who in her 80s would bounce up to the stage at the year-end convention and receive her award in recognition for her work that year. “I’m in for the duration,” she’d say, her face beaming.
The hill leveled off. I turned right, up the dirt road, and zipped past the blueberry fields. Now I could see the finish line. And I remembered what the apostle Paul said: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).
Finally, I crossed the line! Waiting runners and supporters cheered! I was a winner along with 43 others, and it felt marvelous for more reasons than one. There are times in life that we may feel we are running alone with seemingly insurmountable problems besieging us, and it is tempting to give up. The good news, however, is that we are never alone, for our heavenly Father is with us each step of the way. And He always sends us encouragement—some in the form of kind souls giving us flowers, or blessing us with kind and helpful words. He promises that “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isa. 40:31).
May we, when finishing this life’s race, all be able to say with Paul, “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:7, 8).
* Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Rebecca Grice is retired but still works on contract as the Communication Director of the Gulf States Conference. She loves demonstrating God’s love through her writing and art. This article was published September 13, 2012.