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My Dream Of Finishing The Race

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."

(2 Timothy 4:7-8/NIV)

On May 31, 2017, I had a dream that did not impress me, at least at first, as being anything particularly from God. As the next day wore on, though, that changed. I found myself thinking about it often. Unlike most dreams, I remembered most of what I saw in it.

I was in a long distance race, nearing the end, with a runner ahead of me. We were running on a narrow path when, suddenly, the guy in first fell down to the left in a pretty deep ditch. He was rolling around on the ground yelling out that he had cramps and couldn’t run anymore.

As I ran on, the path turned to the right and we entered an oval track like those in stadiums. I remember pushing myself to keep running, knowing there were others that were coming up behind me.

As we approached the finish line, I heard the other runners coming. I turned to look back over my right shoulder and saw three or four rows of runners, about six or seven in each row, running side by side and holding hands. The man closest to me looked over and smiled. They were obviously not competing against each other, but were instead going to cross the finish line together, in an orderly fashion. No one was trying to get ahead of the other runners.

As I meditated on this, I believe the Lord wanted me to see a simple picture of the way the chosen ones of the Lord are about to finish the race we are in as Christians. Many of those currently out in front of the Body of Christ will, as we approach the finish line at the end of this age, drop out of the race and be disqualified. The situations will vary, but the reason will all be the same; they would not stand firm in Christ, remaining in Him through obedience until the end (Matthew 10:22, 24:13). Due to a stubborn, stiff-necked heart, they fell away in the great apostasy, right before the return of Christ (2 Thessalonians 2).

In his letter to the church in the city of Corinth, Paul said the following;

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet [“to subdue one’s passions, to discipline by hardships] my body and make it my slave [“bring into subjection, subject to stern or rigid discipline”], lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.”

(1 Corinthians 9:24-27/NAS)

When Paul made the statement that he could be disqualified, it was not a humorous figure of speech. People whose doctrines say this can’t happen will totally disregard the clear warning of the Holy Spirit in this passage. Paul is stressing the vital importance of self-control and godly discipline in the Christian’s walk through their life. If we are undisciplined, being disobedient to the Holy Spirit’s promptings to do what is right, we will lack the necessary perseverance to finish and cross over.

We are commanded to work together with the Holy Spirit, not against Him. Otherwise, we are, as the Bible says, receiving God’s grace in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1). This means that God’s favor and loving kindness shown toward us is not being received in order to transform us into the image of Christ. Through our stubborn resistance, He cannot set us free from the bondage of our old nature.

In another passage within the New Testament, Paul also said the following; “And also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.” (2 Timothy 2:5/NAS) The rules, or guidelines of God, are provided for us in the Bible. The “narrow way” of the Lord that leads to life has been perverted through false teachings, confusing it with the “broad way” that leads to destruction (see the Bible study Narrow Way and Broad Way). This is the extreme importance of reading your Bible to find out what the will of the Lord is. After having His will revealed by the Holy Spirit, we then need His power to walk it out. We cannot do what God commands us to do without the Holy Spirit. Apart from our submission to Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5).

The writer of the book of Hebrews exhorts all who are following Christ, saying; “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” (Hebrews 10:36/NAS) According to the Bible, endurance in the Christian life is gained through the testing of our faith (Romans 5:3, James 1:2-4). It teaches us to keep going, trusting God to see us through. As we stand firm, our faith in God becomes greater. Great faith comes through great tests. There is no other way.

If you do not find out what the will of the Lord is you will not be able to “do” it, thereby finishing the race and receiving the eternal prize at the end. The Holy Spirit will use difficult circumstances to produce perseverance in your life. During the last part of the race for eternity, which is the most difficult part of any race, you will not make it without this training. Like a runner on earth, the last portion will reveal the level of perseverance.

This is why the Word of God exhorts us to encourage one another, especially as we see the day of the Lord and His judgment on all wickedness approaching (Hebrews 10:25), to stay the course. We must keep disciplined and awake, spiritually speaking, laying aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us as we fix our eyes on Jesus, running with endurance the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Those who cross over the finish line, thereby qualifying themselves in Christ to receive the imperishable wreath of eternal life, will do so in step with the Holy Spirit and those who are also walking in the same orderly, obedient fashion. They will not be competing with each other, as some do, but will be joined together by the Holy Spirit as one united people in Christ. By doing the “good works” in Christ Jesus they were created for (i.e. “doers” of the Word), their faith will be brought to completion, or perfection (James 2:22), bringing to completion this age.

The Body of Christ is about to cross over into our eternal inheritance, finishing the race that has been set before us. Like the dream, it will be in an orderly fashion (1 Corinthians 14:40, Colossians 2:5), led by the Holy Spirit. May we have the attitude of Paul who said; “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.” (Acts 20:24/NIV)

All who are walking in submission to the will of God will finish the race. They will finally be joined together in complete unity, joyfully entering into the Presence of their Lord and Savior. Praise God that this is not be a dream, but will soon be reality!

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