Finish the Race
April 28, 2009 • By Ed Wrather
And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. – Acts 20:22-25 NKJV.
In the Aaron’s 499 race (In 2009) at the Talladega Superspeedway at Talladega, Alabama, Carl Edwards was in the last lap of the race when his car went airborne crashing into the fence protecting the fans. Some of the fans were injured, but thankfully they are going to be okay. Carl was uninjured, and when he realized he was okay he climbed out of the car… and then he finished the race. He could no longer win the race, but he could finish the race, and that is what he did as he ran across the finish line on foot.
The apostle Paul was determined to finish his race too. Paul’s race was the race of life, and he had already had some “crashes” on his way to the finish line with much opposition. He had been stoned to death, but raised by prayer (Acts 14:19-20), he barely escaped in Thessalonica, and there was a continual harassment by the Judaizers following him around trying to cause problems. In Acts 20, Paul is headed for Jerusalem even though he has been supernaturally told that there are difficulties ahead for him. He does not know definitely what those difficulties will be; however, he knows what is ahead may be very bad because he has been through some bad things along the way.
In Acts 21, we are told that Paul receives a further more definite warning about what is to come. Although it appears that Paul may have already perceived this as a possibility, and the warning was to help those with him to understand. In Acts 21:10-13 we are told this, “and as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’ Now when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, ‘What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.’” Paul wanted to finish the race, even if he had to crawl across the finish line. He wanted to live his life in the center of God’s will down to the last moment of his life; down to, and through the last breath that he took.
How is your race going? Are you in the last lap or are you just going into the first turn? Wherever you are at along the way you are going to need something to make it to the end. That something that you need is a determination to finish the race no matter what obstacle or obstacles you may encounter. How do you get that kind of determination, that kind of strength? Jesus is the only One who can give the determination and the strength to you that you will need. That is exactly the source of Paul’s determination and strength. Paul knew that well as he said in Philippians 4:11-13, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”