Striving for the Mastery – Part Six

“Know you not that they which run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.  

I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beats the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”  (I Corinthians 9: 24 – 27)

In 1992 Derek Redmond was at the height of his running career. He was a 400-meter record holder about to compete in the Barcelona semi-finals. He even had his dad in the stands to cheer him on.  Derek was running smoothly and confidently when he hit the back straight during the race. Suddenly he felt a burst of pain. His hamstring had torn and he fell to the track. He wilted to the track. Once he  got back on his feet, he started galloping and then slowed to a hobble as officials on the track sought to get him medical treatment. 

When the medical crew arrived with a stretcher, Derek told them, “I am not getting on that stretcher. I’m going to finish my race.” He lifted himself to his feet, ever so slowly and carefully, and he started hobbling down the track.

His father, Jim Redmond had never coached his son, but instilled in him the kind of self-belief he used to great advantage as a 15-year-old immigrant to Great Britain. That same sense of purpose spurred Jim to leave his seat in the top deck of the stands and make his way down onto the stadium floor and the track without being deterred by some of the track officials.

Derek said, “Soon as I realized it was my dad, I shouted at him, ‘Get me back to Lane 5, I have to finish,’” Redmond said. “My dad says, ‘We’ll finish together,’ and right away he got me back to a walk again. I owe him a lot.” With tears in the eyes of both men, the Redmonds finished the race.

Such support is characteristic of the kind of spirit and support often given and received by most people.  Who hasn’t needed such help in finishing a task?

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (I Thessalonians 5: 11)

We are instructed to “serve one another humbly in love.”(Galatians 5: 13)

Scripture implies God keeps a record of our deeds and rewards them.

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” (Hebrews 6: 10)

When growing weary of serving and helping others remember each occasion is an opportunity to please the Lord. May this reality motivate and energize you. Again the Bible contains this exhortation, “grow not weary in well doing.” He won’t forget. 

Scripture uses a colorful metaphor to illustrate aid given saying “I beseech you,” parakalo, primarily means “to come alongside.” This is a positive offer of encouraging help. It is physically illustrated by the response to an injured teammate in athletics. Suppose a leg or ankle is injured. A teammate comes alongside, puts his shoulder under the injured friend’s arm and supports him. The word “beseech” speaks of tenderness. Give it and don’t grow weary in doing so.