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Press On, Sunday Sermon, 09/16/12

Posted by Brian Linebarger on September 24, 2012 at 3:00 AM

 

Derek Redmond was one of the best athletes to ever compete in the Olympics. He had may awards, and had trained and prepared for the 1992 Olympics. He knew the risks, as he was forced to withdraw from the 1988 Olympics moments before the race he was scheduled to compete in because of an Achilles tendon injury.

Four years and five surgeries later, he was determined to medal in the 400 in the 1992 Barcelona games.

His father Jim Redmond, watched in anticipation as Derek settled into the starting blocks for the semi-final race. Derek got off to a clean start and quickly took the lead. His win looked imminent. Then the unthinkable happened. With a pop, his right hamstring muscle tore, and he fell to the ground in agony. Jim, seeing his son in trouble raced from the top row of the stands.

Determined to finish, Derek lifted himself to his feet, his leg quivering, and ever so slowly, hobbled down the track, waving away the oncoming medical personnel. He limped onward, his tear-stained face twisted in agony.

His father finally reached the bottom of the stands, leapt over the railing, and with two security officers chasing after him, ran to help. “I’m here, son,” Jim said softly, as he hugged his boy. “We’ll finish together.” Sobbing, Derek placed his arm around his father’s shoulders.

Arm in arm, they continued their painful journey. Just before the finish, Jim released Derek. He completed the course on his own. The crowd in total frenzy responded with a standing ovation. With tears in his eyes, Jim Redmond told the press afterwards. “I’m the proudest father alive. I’m prouder of him than I would have been if he had won the gold medal.”

Derek Redmond’s name will be remembered long after records are broken and medals tarnish. He persevered, and with his father’s help, finished strong. 

How easy it would have been for this young man to just give up….. Nobody would have faulted him for it. After all, a hamstring tear (or any muscle tear) is extremely painful. He could have just lay down where he had fallen and let the medical personnel take care of him. I am sure they would have given him something for the pain and then taken him away in an ambulance to a hospital. Everyone watching would have understood. But Derek did not see it that way. Even if those watching would not have faulted him, he would have faulted himself. Why? Because even if he no longer had any chance of winning the gold, he was determined to finish the race. For Derek, it wasn’t about the gold, it was about finishing what he had started.

Our life as Christian is much like a race, but instead of a sprint, we are running an endurance race. It is critical that we know and understand the difference, and that we also understand what we are running for. If we turn our Bibles to Hebrews 12, we will get a great picture of what our race should be:

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV)

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

My friends, When you proclaim the Name Of Christ, people are watching you. They are watching every move you make. That is why we must have endurance to run our race, and we must cast aside anything that will weigh us down or slow us down, and we do our best to avoid the sin in our lives that will trip us up. When you are running a race, the last thing you want to happen is to fall down due to something that could have been avoided. Why? Again because people are watching you. People that you would not even suspect. That grumpy guy at the office, that relative that is always finding fault, your friends who don’t understand the changes that took place in your life when you became a Christian are all watching you to see what you are going to do, to see if your commitment to Christ will last, or if you will start out fast and then fade away. Our Lord had this to say in Luke’s Gospel:

 

 Luke 14;28-30 (NKJV)

28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?

 

In this verse, Jesus is not talking about money. Instead, He is using money as a metaphor to tell us that we must have endurance to run our race. He is telling us to count up what it cost to run this race, not in gold or silver or dollars, but in commitment to Him. Just as our athlete in the story had to have commitment above all else to be able to run that race, so do we have to have commitment first and foremost in order to live our lives for Christ. You can have all the money in the world, but that will not make you a Christian, or a true Disciple Of Christ no more than it would make the young man an athlete.

Sadly, there are many people out there who have started the race and have gotten sidetracked. They now proclaim the name of Christ, but their commitment is to winning the gold (money), not to enduring until the end. Doing this is what it means (regardless of what you may have been brought up hearing) to take the name of The Lord in vain (Exodus 20:7).

So my friends I want to encourage you to press on toward the goal. Keep running that race for The Lord. Are there times when we may fall? Are there times when we may get knocked down and injured? Yes there are, but just as the father of our young athlete in the story picked up his son and helped him to finish the race, so will our Heavenly Father pick us up, and keep us going and will see us through. All we have to do is be willing to keep on going, no matter if we are injured, hurt, upset, poor, rich or whatever. We have to keep moving, to keep pressing on, forgetting the things that are behind us, and keep moving forward, and with His help, we will endure until the end.

 

Philippians 3:13-1413 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

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1 Comment

Reply Joanna Venckus
4:29 PM on January 26, 2014 
When I falter is when I need Christ the most. I need to remind myself that He will pick me up and I will remain committed to Him and the Father.

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