(repost from my Multiply site–written in 2009)
“Don’t just start the race, finish it…”
That adage kept me contemplating for the past two Sundays that I attended the Fight and Be Better series of Victory Christian Fellowship in U-Belt. The series is focused on giving the people the will to fight and continue the journey of life whatever circumstance is and no matter how tough the struggles are. Angled on the Olympic games and the various inspirational stories of different Olympic players, the series aims to inspire and touch the hearts of those people—Christians or not—to put their trust in God alone and follow His will as we journey through this race called ‘life.’
One of the most remarkable Olympic videos shown to us during this Sunday’s service was that of John Stephen Akhwari from Tanzania. He completed the race last (3:25:17) with a bandaged right leg from a bad fall. What greatly moved me was Akhwari’s words:
“My country didn’t send me 5,000 miles to start the race; They sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race…”
Undoubtedly inspiring and very moving words from someone who’d already been slapped with reality that it is already super impossible for him to win the race that time. By the time Akhwari reached the finish line, the awarding for the said game was already done and the winner was already proclaimed. However, he didn’t give up. It didn’t matter whether the game’s already done, the audience was already living. What mattered to him that time was to get to the finish line, because that was his promise to his countrymen when they sent him to the Olympics. And finished the race he did—despite the odds, despite the bandage, the bruise, and despite being the last. At least, he was able to fulfill his promise to get to the finish line.
I wish I am Akhwari–persistent; true to his words; unmoved by the odds and difficult circumstances.
In our lives surrounded by various obstacles from day-to-day, it’s indeed quite tough to be still. There were times when at the pit of your sorrows, you almost want to take your own life. Depression is one great thing that hinders an individual from finishing the race of life victoriously.
I, for one, had experienced numerous miseries in my life of 25 summers. Some almost made me want to give up and immediately cut on the race before I get to the finish line. There were some which made me want to stop at the middle and go back to the starting line and never run the race at all.
I must admit, I’ve been a coward at some points in my life. When I’m being sent glitches, I often contemplate a lot whether to accept it and get on with my journey. Oftentimes than not, I would just stand on the starting line, anxiety-driven, and I would just withdraw from the game and turn my back on what could have been wonderful possibilities had I only choose to get on with the fight. I’ve been a loser in various episodes of my life’s drama.
Thankfully, I found Him. Since the day I embraced Him fully in my life, in my heart I could feel the assurance that life will be better again. The dark nights were over and done. And yes, I’m ready to welcome the sunny days again.
I’ve been through the worst pain a young woman in her early 20s could have experienced. I lost a great love through a glum reason of death. In all those years since the day I kissed him goodbye in that cold room, my life had been a hodge-podge of grief, guilt, half-hearted smiles, and hopelessness. Somewhere along the way, however, God might have felt that I can no longer bear the misery and emptiness in my heart, that he opted to get a firm grip of my hand so I could feel Him. And yes, I’ve never felt even better since then.
It was my growing faith in God that made me stay and continue this journey. It was my faith in Him that gave me strength and hope that life will be better again for me. It was God who silently and invisibly prompted me to continue the race until I get to the finish line.
Just last year, I lost a dear cousin. A couple of months ago, a Tita I so love and hold dearly in my heart passed away, too because of cancer. I could have hated God. I could have loathed His power and His presence in my life. I could have asked Him why He keeps on letting the sad things in my life happen. But I didn’t. I remained firm with my faith. I remained still.
No amount of sadness or destruction or depression could make me turn my back on God anymore. He is my only Savior. With Him I found the serenity of life. I am not a totally good person, but I know in time, my faith and love for God would eventually manifest in my actions and attitudes. I will not rush things.
Living a life of Christianity is never an easy thing. It takes courage, perseverance, patience, and persistence to be a good one. I’m still in the process of developing my new self towards the goodness of God.
I hope that all people in this world could realize as early as now that God is love. He is not just there commanding and demanding. He is our ‘father.’ Let us all be still with our faith in Him no matter what, for He is forever still in His love for us no matter how bad we always are.
Let us all finish this race of life glorifying and praising the mighty Creator who breathe life in all of us.