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From the Pastor's Pen

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The Pastor’s Pen

George Mc Connell March 2024

(1st Corinthians 9:24) “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run that ye may obtain”.

Stoke-on-Trent, England, July 1923. The runners were lining up in their positions on the cinder track. Although no lines had been drawn to show them where to be, these men had been in enough races to give each other the space needed. At least for the moment!This was an important race. A very important race! To win this one meant a great deal indeed. The winner of this race would earn a place on Great Britain’s Olympic team and the chance to race in Paris the next summer.                                                           


Eric Liddell of Scotland, age twenty-one, known as the “Flying Scotsman,” had received a good position, just one spot to the right of the most inside lane. All runners wanted that coveted inside lane, especially during the race. Whoever ran there didn’t have to run as far, for one thing. And, of course if no one were in front of you, the chances of winning the race were very great. Eric Liddell knew all the runners by name. Men from Scotland, England and Ireland, including J.J. Gilles, the man tying his shoes next to him. J.J. Gilles was one of England’s best runners and the favorite to win this 440 yard race.                                                          


As he did with all the runners in every race, Eric offered his hand to J.J. Gilles and shook it, wishing him all the best for the race. He had done this with all the other competitors in every race that were racing against him. Then he prepared himself and got into the starting position. Waiting for the race official to call the line up to take up their marks, Eric found his heart beating much faster, as he was desperately wanting to win this race.                                                  


As Eric was getting into position, he thought within himself, are my legs strong enough to give this man, J.J. next to me a race?                                                                     


With the small starting pistol in his hand, the race official raised his arm into the sky. “On the count of three, gentlemen, and then the gun will sound.” Seconds seemed like minutes to the runners as they waited for the command. “One, two three…” Bang!                                                   


The runners exploded from their starting positions, now the race was on. J.J. Gilles made his move fifteen yards into the race. But instead of waiting for an opening, J.J. cut right in front of Eric!


In a second, Eric found himself lose his balance and went flying into the wooden fencing, then rolling over a few times onto the grass area off the track. Slightly dazed, Eric could hear someone call out, “Get up! Get Up! You’re still in the race.”                                                                                              


Eric couldn’t believe it. He hadn’t time to ask why. Scrambling to his feet, he hurdled the railing and got back on track. By this time the slowest runner was twenty yards ahead of him. “There is no way unless it is God’s will,” Eric thought. Then he got himself going, lifting his head towards the sky, beating his fists into the air and with sheer determination, Eric Liddell began to make his move with every last ounce of effort. Yard after yard, Eric Liddell was getting closer to the rest of the running pact. The crowd began to shout his name as they watched in total amazement as this Scotsman athlete, a devoted Christian getting faster and faster. He starts to overtake some of the slowest runners, but that is not all, he is starting to catch up with J.J. Gilles. The crowd is going wild as they cannot believe what they are seeing. “Forty yards to go Liddell,” they shouted! Come on Eric, you can do it.” Forty yards seemed like forty kilometers to him at this stage, but he’s not giving up. He prays “Please Lord, for you let me win this race and I will give all the glory back to you!” Liddell chased Gilles with every last ounce of effort, and as they were on the home straight, Eric Liddell kept the pace up, closing the gap with Gilles. As he neared the finish line, he threw out his chest and his head back one more time, and passed J.J.Gilles to win the race. Eric Liddell had won the race by two whole yards.  Eric had used everything to win the race. He fell to the ground, gasping for breath. Someone offered him a swig of brandy, but he shook his head adamantly. Motioning to the one who offered him refreshment, he whispered, “Perhaps a cup of tea.”                                                                           


The above text says “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run that ye may obtain”.  (1st Corinthians 9:24) The last phrase of this text could be said of Eric Liddell, “So run that ye may obtain.”                                                                               


My former Pastor the late Ivan Thompson, used to tell us that our Christian lives are not warm up laps, “we are in the race”. Our Christian lives are not dress rehearsals, “we are live on stage.”  How are you and I running in the race for God? Could it be said of us, “Ye did run well, who did hinder you…?” (Galations 5:7) Are you running in the race as well as you used to?


Am I? Is the question I ask myself!                                                                        


Has someone or something hindered you as to why you are maybe like Eric Liddell in his race, has put you completely off the track. You feel defeated already? There is no hope of catching up to where you once used to be? Is this what you think? Is this the way you feel? Maybe my dear praying friend, you must listen out for the voice Liddell heard on his day and situation, “Get up! Get Up! You’re still in the race.” Yes, you are still in the race!!!                                                                                                                                                   


Be like Eric Liddell in his race, get back on track. Don’t let past failures or disappointments put you off. Keep going! Use your nostrils of faith, and breathe in by taking on board every last ounce of grace God gives you for this race. It is available! It cannot be exhausted! Keep going at all costs. Don’t give up! “…He giveth more grace.” (James 4:6) is the encouraging cry for our weary hearts & souls. Keep running! Don’t stop whatever the cost. “My grace is sufficient for thee!” (2Cor.12:9)  Let us then run this race to win the prize, that prize we will receive when we cross the finish line, is to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Keep running for the prize. It is there for you and me to receive. “So run that ye may obtain.”


God Bless!


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