The Los Angeles Marathon had been over about a week, but there was still one participant left – Bob Wieland. He finally crossed the finish line even though he has no legs. He lost his legs in Vietnam. But that didn’t stop him from entering and finishing the Los Angeles Marathon, making every step with his arms and his hands. He’s finished other marathons before this one. And Bob Wieland even crossed America on his hands. It took him three years to do it!
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “Reasons To Quit; Finishing the Race.”
That’s Bob Wieland, with so many reasons to quit, he finishes his race. Which is what God is asking you and me to do. Your “race” is any track that God has set you on in your life. And you may have started well, but it’s gotten really hard now . There are more and more reasons to quit. But in the words of Galatians 6:9, God says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
There’s an enlightening picture of our race in Genesis 12, beginning with verse 1. It’s our word for today from the Word of God. This story of Abram is the story of a man who started well, faltered, and got back on track. It might be a story you find yourself in. The race starts – yours and Abram’s – with what I call the faith obedience. In the Bible’s words: “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.’ So Abram left, as the Lord had told him.”
God directed Abram to leave his comfort zone, his “knowns” for the great unknown of a “land I will show you.” The greatness of what Abram’s life will become begins with a faith obedience; doing what God’s directing him to do, not because he can see where it’s going, but because he trusts the One who is leading him. Every great work of God begins that way. It may well be that you’ve had a time like that. You started on a race for your Lord with a risky obedience; which, by the way, is an oxymoron. There’s really no such thing as a risky obedience when it’s Jesus you’re obeying. There’s only a risky disobedience.
Abram left behind him a trail of altars. When the Lord appeared to him at Shechem, it says, “he built an altar there to the Lord.” You’ve had those altar times when God was closest and His will was the clearest. Think about it. But unfortunately, the faith obedience was followed by the famine detour. Genesis 12 says, “there was a famine…and Abram went down to Egypt.” A hard time hit and Abram’s faith literally went south. Maybe yours has, too. In Egypt, Abram made compromises that were disgusting and unthinkable. Maybe some kind of “famine” has hit your life and your search for answers, for relief, or for security has taken you right out of the will of God.
But the race isn’t over. Abram finishes with the full circle recovery. He returns from his detour and goes “where he had first built an altar. There he called on the name of the Lord.” He went back to the point of his original surrender. That’s how you get back on track, back in the race you’ve wandered from. In your heart, you go back to the time when God seemed so close and His will seemed so clear. And at that original altar, you surrender to Him again. Stop doubting in the darkness what God so clearly told you in the light.
When that paraplegic marathon participant crossed the finish line in a race he had every reason to quit, he explained it this way: “This was not natural; this was supernatural. It was only done by the grace of God.” You know what? That’s how you’ll finish the race you started!