Tuesday, 27 April 2010 14:37
I feel as if I am rounding the last bend in the race of life. There are a couple of more jumps left, but at this stage I am not worried about falling.
I am not in this to win, just to finish the course. Even if I have to be carried across the line I intend to get there, to at least get as far as I can.
I have had a good innings. Three score and four. When the Beatles first sang "When I'm sixty-four" I was only a young fellow, a couple of years younger than themselves.
Sixty-four seemed a terribly long way away, so far away it was almost unreal. John and George didn't make it, unfortunately, but for those who did it's an achievement in itself.
Saint Paul used the example of life as a race on a number of occasions.
In his letter to Timothy (4:6) he seems to feel as if he is coming to the end: "As for me, my life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to be gone. I have fought the good fight to the end – I have run the race to the finish. I have kept the faith..."
Similarly when writing to the Philippians he used the racing analogy: "Not that I have become perfect yet. I have not yet won, but I am still running, trying to capture the prize for which Christ Jesus captured me." (13:11)
I am not suggesting that I would stand a chance in a foot-race or in a faith-race with Saint Paul, but I often find that he puts into words what I feel spiritually.
That is probably because he wrote more of the New Testament than anyone else, and much of what he didn't write, he did, as reported by Saint Luke in the "Acts Of The Apostles".
Paul was and is a Christian colossus, but he seldom takes any credit, attributing all that is good to God, especially through the person of Jesus. Back to the race of life again: "I can assure you I am far from thinking I have already won.
All I can say is that I forget the past and I strain ahead to what is to come. I am racing for the finish, for the prize which God calls us upward to receive in Christ Jesus." (Phil 3:14)
For me Saint Paul is virtually jet-propelled spiritually. He takes off. Nought to 60 or to 60,000 in a matter of seconds.
Off he goes on a flight of spiritual fancy, with me and many others holding on by our fingernails.
Take this as an example from the letter I have just mentioned, Phillipians, chapter three: "I believe nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord. For him I have accepted the loss of everything, and I can look on everything as so much rubbish if only I can have Christ and be given a place in him."
Scripture passages like those I have mentioned are a great consolation to me when the trials of life lead me to question why I ever embarked on my journey of faith.
They lift me up and drag me from my spiritual depression and carry me off on that jumbo powered faith of Paul.
Another Biblical inspired phrase might sum up the feeling: "You raise me up on eagles wings." And right beside Paul, the masterful preacher is Paul, the humble apostle: "I am the least of the apostles: in fact since I persecuted the Church of God I hardly deserve the name apostle, but by God's grace I am what I am, and the grace that he gave me has not been fruitless..." (Cor 15:9) I hope I can say the same for my own grace.