Running This Race of Life

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

A recent podcast by author and speaker Andy Andrews told the story of a long jumper named Bob Beamon. According to Andrews, Bob Beamon was just an average long jumper, as far as world champion competitors are concerned at least. In the 1968  Olympics, held in Mexico City, Beamon broke the Olympic and World records by – get this – almost 2 feet! Twenty-one and two-thirds inches to be exact!

Can you even imagine? Olympic records are broken by fractions of seconds or inches, not by feet! How did this young athlete break the record by such an extreme?

As the story goes, a fellow competitor and world record holder, who usually out-jumped Beamon, came up and whispered an encouragement in Bob’s ear just before he started the run to jump. He said, “Give ’em 2 inches on the front…take 2 feet when you land.” And Bob did just that!

Often in our lives we face challenges. Not insurmountable challenges, but challenges that  overwhelm us and leave us feeling defeated. Perhaps we can learn something from this record-breaking athlete.

1. Prepare as if it all depends on you. Olympic athletes train diligently for months and years. Are we living our life as if we are in training for the purpose for which God has put us here? Are you growing in the Word, in faith, in prayer, in service to God and men, in love? Are you growing in your talents, skills, and field of expertise?

2. Live fully. Immerse yourself in this race of life. Bob was in the race. He competed with varying degrees of success. Today we often view challenges as win or lose. I’ve heard kids’ coaches say “second place is first loser.” But that’s a lie. Second place to Bob Beamon in that Olympic event could have broken a previous world record; Bob just broke it by more. We must quit viewing life’s challenges as “all-or-nothing” and should instead take the advice of Hebrews 12:1-4:

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.

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We must choose to run this race with purpose and endurance without giving up.

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3. Listen to uplifting words. Surround yourself with people who speak God’s Word and grace and truth into your life. We must choose not to listen to the negativity and ill-will  of the worldly society, nor even the pessimism and humanistic tendencies of well-meaning church friends. The words spoken into Bob’s ears spurred him to go beyond what he had ever dreamed possible. That is what God’s words of truth and grace do to our hearts.

4. Run the race believing that you can do it. We are capable of so much more than we believe we are. But we have an enemy that whispers lies into our ears. He tells us we are failures, that our desperate situation will never change, that we have sinned too much, that we’re dreaming too big, or, more subtly, he tells us just to give up, it’s useless. But I say – Believe God! He has a plan for you; it will succeed. For with God nothing is impossible! (Matthew 19:26)

Bob_Beamon_1968bThis week as you face the “im”possibilities of life, take a moment to recall Bob Beamon. If no one is around to speak those words of encouragement to you – speak them to yourself! Do as the psalmist David did – encourage yourself. Speak scripture to yourself. Play praise and worship music. Tell yourself the truth of God, don’t repeat the lies of the enemy even in your mind.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:11

 

Check out pictures of Bob’s famous jump here.

 

 

 

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