Life is a marathon.
As I look around, there are all sorts of athletes running alongside me, behind me, and ahead of me. Some are well-trained, muscular and long-legged, wearing the latest in running attire, while others don’t appear very fit on the outside but are mentally determined. They are the ones that may be wearing worn coveralls and mud boots, but they keep jogging along, pressing toward the mark: the prize of the high calling of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:14)
Jesus stood at the finish line and called one of those faithful runners home yesterday. This particular runner was one of those that kept his head down and kept sloshing through the muck and the mire, while his mud boots rubbed blisters on his heels. He had been a veterinarian while here on earth, but that was just his cover. His real job here on this planet was to be loving and point those who felt his love to Jesus.
I know, because I had the privilege of shuffling alongside him a few times. He would smile and say softly with tears in his voice that Jesus was the only thing that mattered to him anymore. He had had money, houses, vacations, a respectable occupation… but after being knocked out of the race temporarily a few years ago and nearly bleeding to death, he had felt the hand of God tending him and he wanted to tell everyone of God’s goodness through the whole ordeal. And, he kept on running, though his lungs were beginning to gasp for air.
The card this runner sent to encourage my family last Christmas had these words written to the side of the picture of he and his wife: “Oh, come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant.” Now their smiling faces look at me from my refrigerator door where I have taped their greeting. How prophetic were the words. They didn’t know just a year later, they both would’ve completed their races.
This Christmas, Jesus stood at the finish line and while opening his arms wide to catch and hold this very tired but determined marathoner, He must’ve shouted: “Oh Come! Welcome! And well done my good and faithful one.”
Now, one more athlete is completely joy-filled as he has crossed the line. With a feeling of triumph, he has taken off his old boots and felt the comforting, heavenly grasses between his toes.