The Marathon of Life
by Pr Paddick Van Zyl
The Marathon of Life
Pastor Paddick Van Zyl
I came across the fowling written by J. Michael Shannon on the topic of running:
“According to news reports, a 100-year-old British man has become the world’s oldest marathon runner, completing a race in Canada. The man’s name is Fauja Singh, and he is now in the Guinness Book of World Records. He completed the marathon in eight hours, 25 minutes and 16 seconds. Singh was born in India and told reporters that his success can be attributed to ginger curry, tea and being happy. Singh said, “The secret to a long and healthy life is to be stress-free. Be grateful for everything you have; stay away from people who are negative; stay smiling; and keep running.” 1
Hebrews 12 :1-2 The Passion Translation
1 As for us, we have all of these great witnesses who encircle us like clouds. So we must let go of every wound that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into. Then we will be able to run life’s marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us.
2 We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection. His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God!
2 Timothy 4:7 The Amplified Translation
7 I have fought the good and worthy and noble fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith firmly guarding the gospel against error. 8 In the future there is reserved for me the victor’s crown of righteousness for being right with God and doing right, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that great day—and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved and longed for and welcomed His appearing.
Finishing the race of faith versus finishing the race of faith well.
Many believers finish their race of faith and graduate to heaven. Fewer believers finish their race of faith WELL, and graduate. What is the difference? What can we do to ensure that we finish well? Life is a marathon, and thus needs stamina and endurance to finish. It is not a sprint.
“It’s all grace”, I hear you say, and you are absolutely right. However, together with grace there are things we should do to run our race better.
Let’s look at 4 elements or actions needed to ensure we finish our race well:
*Spending quality time, communion, with God, daily
*Living a gospel centred life
*Presenting yourself, your body a living sacrifice before God
*A firm believe in the sovereignty and love of God the Father
We will drift away from the things of God if we do not cultivate communion, fellowship with the Father, asking God to speak to us, as we lay our hearts bear before Him and for us to respond to Him.
The gospel is for the saved as well the unsaved. We are still plagued with sin. Wash yourself spiritually with the gospel message daily. Check yourself against the gospel. “I need Your mercy and Your grace,” should be our heart’s cry daily. The gospel in my life reminds me and keeps me from a performance related relationship with God. 'I come daily to You Jesus as a sinner, wash me in Your blood today.' It is all by grace through faith, not works, not merit.
Psalm 51:17 New International Version (NIV)
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
Be a living sacrifice:
The burnt offering was the only offering wherein the whole animal was burned consumed. Our lives are to be a continual, whole burnt offering to God. Daily. Consecration. We are to give ourselves not loan ourselves to God for His purpose, His plan.
Romans 12:1-2 AMP
1 Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies dedicating all of yourselves, set apart as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world any longer with its superficial values and customs, but be ctransformed and progressively changed as you mature spiritually by the renewing of your mind focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes, so that you may prove for yourselves what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect in His plan and purpose for you.
The Passion Translation reads:
Romans 12:1-2 (TPT)
1 Beloved friends, what should be our proper response to God’s marvelous
mercies? I encourage you to surrender yourselves to God to be his sacred, living sacrifices. And live in holiness, experiencing all that delights his heart. For this becomes your genuine expression of worship.
2 Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you,a
but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.
The definition of mercy can be found in Ephesians chapter 2:
Ephesians 2:1-6 (TPT)
1 And his fullness fills you, even though you were once like corpses,a
dead in your sins and offenses. 2 It wasn’t that long ago that you lived in the religion, customs, and valuesb
of this world,c
obeying the dark ruler of the earthly realm who fills the atmosphere with his authority, and works diligently in the hearts of those who are disobedient to the truth of God. 3 The corruption that was in us from birth was expressed through the deeds and desires of our self - life. We lived by whatever natural cravings and thoughts our minds dictated, living as rebellious children subject to God’s wrath like everyone else. 4 But God still loved us with such great love. He is so rich in compassion and mercy. 5 Even when we were dead and doomed in our many sins, he united us into the very life of Christ and saved us by his wonderful grace! 6 He raised us up with Christ the exalted One, and we ascended with him into the glorious perfection and authority of the heavenly realm, for we are now co-seatedd
as one with Christ!
The sovereignty of God:
Lamentations 3:37-38 CEV
37 No one can do anything without the Lord’s approval. 38 Good and bad each happen at the command of God Most High.
The Amplified version reads
Lamentations 3:27-28 Amp
37 Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, Unless the Lord has authorized and commanded it? 38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High That both adversity (misfortune) and good (prosperity, happiness) proceed?
God is sovereign in control of the actions of other people. God is in control even over the sinful actions of other people: Joseph is a excellent example. God is in control of all things, of everything in life, the good the bad the ugly the beautiful. And He has a plan – always. And His plan an purpose is good and perfect.
Romans 8:28-30 AMP
A well know passage:
28 And we know with great confidence
that God who is deeply concerned about us
causes all things to work together as a plan
for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew and loved and chose beforehand
, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son and ultimately share in His complete sanctification
, so that He would be the firstborn the most beloved and honored
among many believers. 30 And those whom He predestined, He also called; and those whom He called, He also justified declared free of the guilt of sin
; and those whom He justified, He also glorified raising them to a heavenly dignity
It takes faith to give thanks for all things!
In Closing, let’s hear what the Apostle Paul had to say about the marathon of life we are in:
Acts 20:24 New International Version (NIV)
24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
Acts 20:24 The Passion Translation (TPT)
24 “But whether I live or die is not important, for I don’t esteem my life as indispensable. It’s more important for me to fulfill my destiny and to finish the ministry my Lord Jesus has assigned to me, which is to faithfully preach the wonderful news of God’s grace.
Galatians 2:20b Amp
The life I now live in the body I live by faith by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting
in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Let us always look to Jesus the author and finsher of our faith and be reminded that this short race is fleeting and will soon pass. When we have run well, we will be with Jesus in glory and hear Him say: “Well done, good and faithful servant…” (Matthew 25:23).
1 Shannon, J. Michael : Happiness id running: https://www.preaching.com/sermon-illustrations/illustration-happiness-is-running/
Amplified Bible (AMP)
Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Timothy+3&version=AMP
The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017 by BroadStreet Publishing® Group, LLC.Used by permission. All rights reserved. thePassionTranslation.com https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=heb+12&version=TPT
Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society