Scripture: Acts 20:
22 "And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
Observation: God never promises us that we will not face tough times as we serve Him, in fact, it may be that we face more tough times when we choose to walk the narrow path, but He will strengthen us and help us through if we stay the course and finish the race.
Application: This morning as I read this scripture I am reminded of a friend of mine from Karate many years ago. I’ve not heard from him in many many years. He was a large guy, very strong, a heavy weight with a full face beard and a body like a tree trunk. He was training for his black belt test and I was one of his sparing partners. He was one of the few people who actually knocked me out. I don’t mean he hit me and I staggered around a little, I mean he knocked me out! I woke up on the floor on more than one occasion when fighting with him. He was extremely tough.
Because he took his black belt test before I did, I was not able to be there during his test, but I know from the local dojo legend that grew from it that during the test (which was about eight hours long) somewhere near the middle parts when he was fighting, one of his ribs got broken. What amazed everyone was that he finished the rest of the test with the broken rib.
I’ve never broken a rib myself, but I know it is extremely painful, it not only hurts to move, but it even hurts to breath, so this was no little thing. To finish such a difficult test even while in top shape is an accomplishment that you will be proud of all your life, but to finish while hurt that bad is a sign of an amazing determination.
Paul had a determination that was no less amazing. His ministry was wracked with difficulties from the beginning and here we find him nearing the end. He is tired, he has gone through trial after trial, and sees nothing but more of the same ahead. But I can almost see him wrapping his cloak around him a little tighter, leaning into the wind and saying "my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace." Wow. What a strong person he was, what determination he demonstrated and what persistence he possessed.
We need more of that in the church today. I NEED MORE OF THAT in my own life and my own heart. Too often we get to a point where we feel like we’ve done enough, and it’s time to let someone else take the jobs that we’ve been doing and carry their load. No – we are still here and still breathing and still able to serve for a reason. Even though Hardships are sure to come, and there may be many more ahead – we must finish the race.
Prayer: Dear Lord,
Please give me more of what Paul had – help me to lean into the wind and face the coming hardships of life with a determination to finish what you’ve sent me here to do. And help me Lord to do it all for Your glory!