Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Amazing Race of Faith

The hit TV reality show The Amazing Race season 20 premiere was this past Sunday evening in the States. Teams race around the world completing challenges in hopes of winning a million dollars while having the experience of a lifetime. I got interested in the show when I took a short term mission trip overseas in college and all the missionaries gathered together each week to watch who would be eliminated next. After traveling the world a bit myself, I continue to watch the show, not for the drama and arguing that inevitably occurs, but to see a little of what life is like in the countries they visit.

Bujagali Falls, Nile River (personal photo)
I always thought it would be fun to be an Amazing Race contestant. My husband and I had a pretty unique story, we enjoyed running and hiking together, we loved trying exotic food, I felt confident one of us could do most any of the tasks required, and with our overseas experiences I thought we'd have a great chance of being competitors. It's hard to believe now that I ever could have physically completed one leg of The Amazing Race! My life of traveling, white water rafting the Nile, hiking the Pitons in St. Lucia, riding a camel in the Arabian Desert, and daily running may very well be over as chronic pain has become my constant companion. I was thrilled yesterday that I was able to attend church for one hour, wash some dishes, run an errand, and take my daughter to the library and care for her without help for 6 hours!

I started thinking last night about my own race. Sure, I'm not sky diving or traveling the world, but we are all on a race, or really a marathon. The race began when we were born and the finish line is either life eternal with Jesus or an eternal life of suffering in Hell. The Bible speaks on several occasions of the Christian life as a race.
"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 founder 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
These verses follow the famous "hall of faith" chapter in the Bible, Hebrews 11, where the great faith of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Sara and many others is remembered. Hebrews 11:33-34 tells of all the amazing things God did through men of great faith: conquering kingdoms, stopping the mouths of lions, quenching fire, and escaping the sword.  Then in stark contrast verses 35-38 describe men who endured great suffering. It seems very clear that by faith some men escaped the sword while others still keeping great faith were killed by the sword.

Since we have been preceded by such great men and women of faith, we too should throw aside sin and the cares of this world and strive to run the race set before us by faith. I've read Hebrews several times, but I was particularly drawn to these words, set before us, when thinking about the Christian race. I can't help but wonder if these unnamed men of whom the world was not worthy (Hebrews 11:35-38) would not have rather run the amazing race of Noah or Moses. Are there not Christians in our own lives whose races seem much more important or exciting than our own? When weeks go by and I hardly leave my house or have any contact with the outside world I wonder how my race makes a difference.

But God in His loving and all wise providence has designed the race set before each of us for a specific purpose. It may be a race filled with chronic illness and hardship or it may be a life of great adventure clearly seeing God's plans unfold. However, the purpose of the race is not the circumstances involved, but the faith by which we run the race. Not a faith that God will make our situation on this Earth better, but a trust in Jesus, the author of our faith, and in His goodness no matter the race set before us. If we run with endurance, at the finish we will receive the crown of life (James 1:12), and our great reward will be Jesus! This is the real amazing race, not bungee jumping or seeing the wonders of the world, the race of eternal weight and value.

Keep pressing on in faith today in our sovereign, good God no matter the race set before you so that one day we may say with Paul,

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7  

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  1. Beautiful. I'm stopping by from the link party. Blessings.

  2. Stopping by from the link party. Your words are so beautiful and inspiring!

  3. Thank you ladies, for your kind words!

  4. Thank you for these beautiful words..needed to hear them. It has been hard to keep faith when in constant pain.