Bible Studies Words Of Encouragement By David Underwood / last week Share Tweet Pin Share Running the Race…Together “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14 In the last days in which we’re living, the pressure is mounting. There are terrible storm clouds gathering in this nation: erosion of civil liberties and the destruction of our system of checks and balances. There are clear and present dangers that are regrouping and rapidly gaining force. There are many voices and many distractions. Satan knows his time is short. In these last days, terror is a common word. But our Lord says: “…be not terrified: for these things must come to pass…” Luke 21:9 Paul writes in the book of Thessalonians concerning “the times and the seasons” that we should comfort ourselves together and to edify one another, to know them which labor among us…that we should esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake, and be at peace among ourselves. To comfort the feeble-minded, support the weak, and be patient toward all men. (I Thessalonians 5: 1, 11-14). There is an urgency in these last days to press forward. To press against all opposition. To press “toward the mark,” and make sure that we do not leave our brothers and sisters behind. We must “know them which labor among us.” Recently, there was a story about the Special Olympics: something very special happened: As the smiley-faced competitors were all lined up for a 100 yard dash, the starting signal sounded and they all took off, intent on pursuing the goal of the finish line…and winning the prize. As one of the runners rounded a corner, he fell. Tears streamed down the young boy’s cheeks. As he sat on the tracks feeling defeated, worthless and hurt, what happened next is most memorable: All of the Special Olympic runners turned back toward the little boy and gathered around him. They linked arms around him, and together, they walked with him to the finish line. There was not a dry eye in the stadium. What made this particular moment so memorable? Because it was so counter to our human nature of selfishly going after our own goals. And because they knew who “labored among them.” When a runner hurt her leg badly in the regular Olympics, no one turned back to help her. Not one. If they had, do you know what kind of press coverage they would have received? It would have been the event of the year. An unforgettable moment. But these Special Olympic runners, although intent on their personal goal…they stopped to put one little boy first. They did not leave him behind. Now, that’s preaching! They were family, joined together, in running the race. It was their race. They had a sensitivity toward each other because each realized he or she had weaknesses. too. It could have been any of them who fell that day. The Special Olympic runners may not have won any individual medals that day, but they did what was most important…they ran the race together. And they finished the race well. That made them all winners, not only in the eyes of others, but in the eyes of the Lord. We want to please Him. It is what the race is all about. We’re all in a race. And as we pursue our individual goals in the Kingdom of God, will we stop and help each other along the way? Will we be bonded together for a common goal? If we run the race together, we will grow in grace and understanding, and please our Lord. We will become effective witnesses: the world will see our love for one another. Do we run about pursuing our personal goals in the Kingdom of God and perhaps miss out on the opportunity to become a blessing to someone that we do not know, while we may be focused on those that we do know? Do we become “respecter of persons” when we ignore or not acknowledge those that we do not know and would rather reach out to those that we know because they can do something for us? When someone reaches out to those of us that are in position to help, do we look back at their smiley faces as though they’re retarded and shun them, leaving them behind, lonely and hurting, instead of helping them to the finish line? Recently one of our ministers stated: “If we go after those that nobody wants, God will give us those that everybody wants.” How many of us will leave our comfortable circle of friends and go out and become a blessing to someone that they do not know…perhaps someone who is lonely, hurting, or just needs a word of encouragement and uplifting? While attending the 2008 UPCI General Conference, in one of the business sessions, I found myself in that group: feeling lonely, a minister amongst a thousand ministers. How is that? It can happen to any of us…we’re all human. You know what happened? One minister stood out. He made it a point to shake my hand and introduced himself. I didn’t even recognize his name at first, because of his countenance: a meek and humble spirit. Only later, after I returned home, did it come into focus that it was Bro. Gary D. Erickson, and that I had one of his books entitled: The Conversion Experience, A Biblical Study of the Blood, Water and Spirit. May I quote the last paragraph in his book: “In the final analysis, prosperity or poverty does not prove anything about a person’s spirituality. The most important thing is his attitude about his situation. Everyone has a different role to play in life. One person’s financial status will differ from someone else’s. As well as skills, talents, and IQ. Regardless of our place in God’s creative genius, we should strive to improve every facet of our person and to reach out to others in a redemptive way.” Regardless of his office, regardless of his intelligence, he reached out that day and touched someone “in a redemptive way,” and brought someone a little closer to the finish line. In the day that we’re living, the pressure is on, and the world must see Jesus in us. Just as what happened on that day in the Special Olympics, what the world say was more powerful than words: the love that they had for one another. Sometimes it may only take a little smile, or a handshake, to bring encouragement and uplifting. We must get beyond our personal goals and realize that we’re in this thing together. We must link our arms about one another; we must “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” and… Run the Race…Together.