Pastor’s Ponderings: Running the Race with Perseverance

Posted by on Aug 5, 2021 in Pastors Ponderings | 0 comments

During the summer of 2021… during the 2020 Olympics (postponed a year due to the pandemic), Pastor Jim submitted the following thoughts on how our faithfulness and persistence will lead to a guaranteed victory.  Christ has already secured a crown for us in heaven, and that will be even better than a gold medal on the winner’s podium.

 

Greetings Friends;

As you may be aware the Olympics are being held in Tokyo, Japan. The competition, the stories behind the athletes, and the actual performances by the athletes are inspiring and can be a source of encouragement.

Below is the brief story of a former Olympic athlete from the United States named James Connolly.  His story is one of confidence, perseverance, and strength.  I pray that each of us will be blessed.

 

Please read the following verses (click/tap the tab to open each verse)…

 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:14

“Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”

2 Timothy 4:8

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

James 1:12

“And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”

1 Peter 5:4

“Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Revelation 2:10b

 

 

Hungry for the Prize…

James Connolly, US Olympian 1896 (photo from USopm.org)

The very first Olympic champion in the history of the modern games is an American named James Connolly, the first person to take first place after the resumption of the games in 1896.

James Connolly was born in south Boston and dreamed of attending Harvard University, but he couldn’t afford it. He worked multiple jobs for many years to save enough for tuition; and at age 27, he finally enrolled. The year was 1896, and soon rumors spread that the ancient Olympic games would be reborn in Athens. At Princeton University, runner Robert Garrett had already decided to go, taking three teammates with him. Princeton gave them six weeks off for the trip.  Back at Harvard, Arthur Blake, another runner, was granted permission to attend the Olympics. But when James asked for the same privilege, the school refused. The dean of the school is quoted as saying, ‘You’re only an undergraduate. If you leave now, you will have to quit—and you may not be allowed back in.”  James replied, “I’m a good enough jumper to beat anybody in the world. I’m going to Athens to prove it. And if that means quitting Harvard, then I quit right now.” James withdrew his college funds and, shortly afterward and sailed for Europe.

 

Pressing on Through Obstacles…

The other athletes were on board too, but they had lots of funding and could travel first class. James found himself far below deck in a cramped, musty, dank cabin with little food. He suffered terribly from seasickness on the journey across the ocean.  The ship eventually took them to Naples.

James was no sooner off the boat in Naples when someone bumped into him on the crowded streets. Later in the day when James reached for his billfold, it was gone. He’d been robbed of every cent by a pickpocket. When he finally arrived in Athens he was physically and mentally exhausted, penniless, frazzled, and traveling at the mercy of wealthier teammates. He had become weak and a bit out of shape. But at least he had two weeks to recover from the trip, or so he thought. An even greater shock and surprise was about to be revealed to him. The Greeks used a different calendar than the Americans, and Olympic competition was set to begin the very next day!

 

Encouragement Overcomes Difficulties…

When morning came, James dragged himself out of bed for the opening ceremonies and stood for hours in the blazing sun awaiting the beginning of the games. When the games began, James’ event, the triple jump, was first on the schedule. “I don’t know if I can manage even one jump,” James said. “I’m exhausted.”  One of his teammates pulled him aside and said, “I’ve seen you make it this far despite all the problems you’ve had getting here, and I’ve seen you jump. There’s no one here who can beat you. Just remember. You’re representing Americans now.”

 

Perseverance Helps Bring us to Victory…

As the competition proceeded, James watched his opponents. The French jumper had the best marks, a triple jump of 41 feet, 8 inches. Walking to the edge of the runway, James had a rush of adrenaline along with a fresh surge of confidence. Racing down the runway, James leaped into the air and to everyone’s amazement, his triple jump measured nearly 45 feet.  Leaping to their feet, the thousands of spectators began roaring!  James had won the Olympic event! That afternoon, James Connolly stood on the victor’s stand and was awarded the silver medal, at that time signifying first place. Not only did he become America’s first Olympic hero, he was the first Olympic champion of modern times.

 

=     =     =     =

 

You know friends, as I read that story, I was reminded that we must all persevere through difficulties if we’re going to win the crown God has for us. Jesus tells us in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” 

While we are assured of the victory we must still run with perseverance the race that is set before us. We must not give in or give up as we live our lives of faith. As God’s people we may have many difficult days, but like good spiritual Olympians, we must keep on going until the prize is won.

Shalom,

Pastor Jim

+     +     +     +     +     +     +

 

For additional Pastor’s Ponderings articles, click this button:   Pastor’s Ponderings  

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *