by Mike Wallace

He had fallen down and injured his knee and ankle; blood was oozing from the wounds. At about 7 P.M. John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania slowly entered the Olympic Stadium in Mexico City more than an hour behind the first-place Olympic finisher. Hobbling along, limping and grimacing with pain, he moved forward to the finish line of the Olympic Marathon. He was by far the very last runner to complete the marathon that day.

Hurting, in pain with blood and dirt caking onto his wounds, the reporters asked him why he had continued the race after falling down and injuring himself. His answer was profound: “My country did not send me 7,000 miles to start the race. They sent me 7,000 miles to finish it.”

Endure to the End

He had endured to the literal end. It is not easy to fight the good fight and to endure through this human life. Humanity is evil and completely influenced by Satan (II Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2; Rev. 12:9). We will be buffeted and harassed and challenged about our belief in our Savior Jesus. Will we endure to the end?

“And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt. 10:22. All Scripture quotations are NKJV, unless otherwise noted.).

We must endure the race God has called us to. We will be persecuted and hated because of the god of this world–Satan. Run the race God has given us–endure to the end. Never give up!

After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness God spoke directly to Joshua. He told him to endure to the end. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Josh. 1:9). How is our spiritual endurance? Are we “strong and of a good courage?” Endure to the end.

Our Christian Race

Many years ago, I was a collegiate swimmer. I was never the fastest person in the pool (too short, too much leg muscle) but for the long-distance races, I was a machine. I could swim all day and push myself to the end.

The 1,000-yard freestyle is 40 lengths of the pool and is as tough of a swim race as one can endure. Length after length, breath after breath, the race carried on. It was long, difficult and at times anguishing as my body would gasp for air and rest. The sprinters had it easy–down and back in the pool and they were done. Our Christian race is long and at times anguishing, as we long for the Holy Spirit to guide us. Endure to the end.

While swimming I would often recite a poem I knew. Like the champion, John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania, it is about The Champion.

The Champion

The average runner sprints,

Until the breath in him is gone.

But the CHAMPION has the iron will

That makes him “carry on.”

For rest, the average runner begs

When limp his muscles grow.

But the CHAMPION runs on leaden legs,

His spirit makes him go.

The average man’s complacent,

When he does his best to score.

But the CHAMPION does his best

And then he does a little more.

Author Unknown

Run the Race

The apostle Paul compares our Christianity to a race. “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore, I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus, I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:24-27). Endure to the end.

When Jesus returns will we be running our race? Will we have fallen down and become injured? Will blood be streaming from our bodies (see the book of Revelation). Will we limp across the finish like John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania? No matter how difficult Satan makes this life, we must run the race. When asked why we finished our race, can we say, “My God did not send me 7,000 miles to start the race. He sent me 7,000 miles to finish it.”

Endure to the end!