1 Corinthians 9:23-25 (English Standard Version)
23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
Yesterday I wrote about races in the context of marriage. But honestly, throughout the day, I watched a very real race, with a very real finish line.
A family from our church has two sons–both boys battling Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy–Paul, age 19 and Andrew, almost 18. To say that these boys and their parents have been inspirational would be a vast understatement.
As a mother, I don’t know how I would be if I knew that my child was sick, suffering and dying. That almost from birth my child would suffer. To be a mother with two children, both sharing the same terrible diagnosis, could break me. To carry that burden for so many years, the decisions to be made…I just don’t think that I am that strong.
Jane and Phil, parents of these two very special boys, have not only inspired me, but they have ministered to so many through the years. Most recently, I have seen the impact this family has had in the life of my daughter, Stephanie. Through the forging of their friendship, I have seen my sweet daughter through a different set of eyes. Her passion and compassion have been used by the Lord in and through the pain of this dear family, finding creative and truly useful ways of helping them throughout these last several months. While I know that her compassion and efforts have been a blessing to the family, their lives have moved her forward in her own race in life.
Yesterday, Paul crossed the finish line in his life race. His body could no longer fight the effects of the disease. He said he was ready to leave this world behind, all of the pain and suffering he had known, in exchange for a new, glorified body in the presence of the Lord Jesus. His condition, while it had been deteriorating steadily, took a sudden and definite turn during the afternoon, and he was translated into the presence of his Savior.
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
14 I shall pay my vows to the Lord,
Oh may it be in the presence of all His people.
15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
Is the death of His godly ones.
16 O Lord, surely I am Your servant,
I am Your servant, the son of Your handmaid,
You have loosed my bonds.
Paul’s bonds were loosed. No longer was he chained to a body that failed him. No longer chained to a wheelchair. He was truly free to enter into that perfect rest that can only be found in Christ’s presence.
For Phil, Jane and Andrew, along with their family and friends, it is a most bittersweet time. The joy that we had in Paul’s presence is replaced by memories, and that for us is sorrowful. But remembering Paul’s faithful witness for the Lord Jesus all through his suffering, the many lives he influenced…the reality of his presence now in Glory with the One he served and loved…In this, we find that there is sweetness and joy and hope and peace. Paul finished his race. Gracefully and completely. He has heard the Lord’s “Well Done…”
How are you running YOUR race? Are you running for that imperishable reward? Keep running, do not falter. Cross the finish line faithfully!