Life is like a race. We, like runners approaching the finish-line, will soon come to our life’s end. It shall not go on and on.
How true are the words of Isaac Watts:
Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly forgotten as a dream
Dies at the opening day.
My younger brother’s sudden death last Monday, at the age of 53, left my aged parents, his family and many of us who have known him shocked and devastated. We were dumbfounded that his life ended so fast. But we were grateful that the Lord has called him by the Gospel and prepared him through his short life on earth for heaven’s glory.
We may say that life is uncertain, but life will certainly end very soon, and it shall never again return to this earth. So Job said,
7 For there is hope of a tree,
if it be cut down, that it will sprout again,
and that the tender branch thereof will not cease.
8 Though the root thereof wax old in the earth,
and the stock thereof die in the ground;
9 Yet through the scent of water it will bud,
and bring forth boughs like a plant.
10 But man dieth, and wasteth away:
yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?
The realisation that our life is extremely brief has a very sobering effect on us. It leaves with us many hard questions about the purpose of our existence on earth. Why do we work so hard for this transient life on earth? Why should we take pride in our accomplishments, our wealth, our fame, etc.? Certainly, life does not revolve around its luxuries and pleasures.
If life would end soon, then why be fretful that it is full of troubles and disappointments? After all, it shall soon end, and believers shall enter the glory that God has prepared for them!
As I considered my brother’s sudden death, I have learned that the inescapable fact of life is that it revolves around God! He is the Giver and Taker of our life! He alone is eternal – without beginning or end. In view of His eternity, the duration of our earthly sojourn pales into insignificance. Moses said,
1 Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world,
even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
3 Thou turnest man to destruction;
and sayest, Return, ye children of men.
4 For a thousand years in thy sight are
but as yesterday when it is past,
and as a watch in the night.”
Life, then, is like a race. When the whole race is over, if we had run well, we shall soon hear the commendation: ‘Well done! Well done!’
Run Your Race with Christ in View
The Christian life is a race in which God’s child is focused on Christ, from the beginning to the end. Christians are exhorted to “run with patience the race that is set before us” by “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
The Greek word for “looking” (aphoráō) literally means looking away from one thing to some other thing in a steadfast or intent manner. It has been used to denote the fixing of the mind upon something. It expresses the mental posture that all Christians should maintain in relation to Jesus, as they run their Christian race. It should be a holy habit of our souls to keep the Lord Jesus in our view.
Looking at Jesus at the beginning of the race and then totally keeping Him out of view, is not the right kind of faith that Scripture teaches us. We should never lose focus of Christ in our Christian race. The reality is, some of the people who started the race with us may drop out of the race altogether while some others may be distracted and refuse to keep up, thus leaving us disappointed and troubled. But we must not let our minds be affected by their quitting. We must look away and fix our thoughts upon Christ. Even if all around us are a constant encouragement to us in our Christian race, it could well be our own lethargy and lust that hinder our race. Only when our minds are steadfastly fixed on Christ can we then overcome all distractions and obstacles, and complete our Christian race.
We look away from all else to Jesus only, for He is “the author and finisher of our faith”. The Greek word for “author” was translated earlier as “captain” in chapter 2, verse 10. There it was said of Christ, “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” Christ has set the path and He calls us to follow Him. It is Him, not the crowd, that we follow. The course of our race is shown by Him. He leads and we follow. His is our Guide, Strength and Motivation in our Christian race.
Jesus, the Author of our faith, has entered the heavenly sanctuary as our Forerunner (Hebrews 6:19-20), and has opened “a new and living way” for us that leads to this sanctuary (Hebrews 10:20). He is the “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 21:6; cf. 1:17; 22:13). He is our perfect Saviour and Captain, who is able to perfect all who have placed their trust in Him.