This weekend there was an Ironman race in our town. If you’re unfamiliar with an Ironman race, they start at 7:00 AM with a 2.4 mile swim, then they ride their bike for 112 miles and then run 26.2 miles. That’s a 140.6 mile race! Oh, and they have time limits for each portion of the race. To be qualified as an Ironman, you have to finish within those time frames. For the marathon run portion, you have to cross the finish line by midnight. That’s a 17 hour race if you’re keeping up with the math.
We had a friend racing in it so we thought we would go cheer her on at the finish line. I wasn’t prepared for that. It was an amazing experience to watch these Ironmen old and young, skinny and not so skinny cross the line. The music was pumping and the crowd was electric. Every time a runner would cross the line, the announcer would call out their name and say, “You are an Ironman!” The crowd would roar in celebration for that person. Some walked across the finish line, some limped, so ran faster, so took time to high five the crowd as they passed and some slowed down to take it all in and asked the crowd to cheer more.
As I was cheering, I thought about my own finish line in life. I thought, “This must be what it’s like when we die and go to Heaven. There must be a crowd of people cheering us across the finish line as the Father says our name and then says, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!'” My mind also went to Hebrews 12:1 that says, “Since we are surrounded by a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”
In a 140.6 mile race, I’m sure there are places in that race where there isn’t a crowd cheering you on. There are placed where it’s just them and the road. They’re going through the motions fighting a mental battle to push on. I’m sure there is every reason in the world to want to quit and only one reason to stay in the race. There are walls in their mind that they have to push through. There are times where they need water and sustenance to give their body energy to keep going. But there are times where someone hands them a drink, offers a nutritious bar and times where there is a crowd that cheers them on. But there’s nothing like the crowd at the finish line.
In our personal race, there are times you will face where no one is there to keep you going. There will be times when you have every reason to quit. There will be walls that you will face to try to stop you. You’ll need to drink from God’s Word. You’ll need supernatural food to sustain you along the way. God will send encourages along your path, but there will be nothing like crossing the finish line in Heaven. There will be music and a great crowd of witnesses cheering you home. You will hear the Father say your name and then, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” So keep pushing today. You aren’t in a sprint or even a marathon. This life is an Ironman race. You can make it.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7, 8 NLT)