I write this the day before Easter, the most joyous day of the year for Christians. Yet, a sad note I must introduce. Twice recently I have been amongst friends from churches I used to attend: one where I was baptised and one where I spent thirteen years. I asked after those I knew. ‘ O, he doesn’t come to church anymore.’ ‘O, I think he lost his faith.’ The fallout seemed highest amongst those who had married non believers.
There was a time when I was keen to see which celebrity had embraced the Christian faith. It was all about beginnings. I was not so much interested in the finishing tape. I came across a little booklet called ‘Finishing The Race’ by Peter Gillquist.
‘The heroes in modern evangelism are the living, contemporary Christians: the famous authors, evangelists, Bible teachers, born-again athletes or politicians, who are in the public limelight with their stirring testimonies of initial conversions. But in days gone by, it was those who had finished the course, those who- living still, to be sure- had gone home to glory, who were counted as heroes of the Faith.’
I would stress that I am not referring to people going through a challenging time, questioning what they believe, doubting or even backsliding. Competitors in a race go through all sorts of mental and physical trials. I am talking about folks quitting the race.
St Paul writes, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith ( 2 Tim 4.7 )
I implore you, whatever the fatigue, whatever the cramp in the leg, whatever the temptation to stop, cross that line! Eternity is a long time to be a loser.
O Lord our God,
You reduced our human lifetime to a little while
because of our weak and defenceless nature;
but in return,
if we overcome the assaults of enemy,
you have promised us eternal joy
Eastern Orthodox Prayer