The big race had just begun. The runners were all lined up heading in the same direction. This would be a race of a life time. The runners were excited as they anticipated all that lay before them. Chatting happily as they ran through the wooded areas and wide open fields. Sometimes the rocks would make certain runners trip but there were friends along the way that were always right there to pick up the fallen or offer a drink to the thirsty. Throughout the race new runners would join. The other runners would all cheer as their new friends chose to run the race.
This was a race that was not intended to be competitive but rather one where each athlete was to receive a prize at the end of their own journey, which was yet to be determined for each individual. But sometimes people forgot this, especially if they felt superior to another runner who ran next to them. Or inferior to one in front of them.
Sometimes the runners got tired and heard there was a short cut down paths that were wider and easier to travel. But most times those runners never made it back to the less traveled road where the other runners journeyed.
Sometimes when a runner would fall down some behind him would race right past. Some would offer words of encouragement and even sit right down with the runner. But Others would stop to stare. They would whisper to each other... "He's fallen, I think this is grounds for disqualification from the race." Forgetting that they themselves had fallen several miles back. And all kinds of questions arose as to what to do with this disqualified one. Some of the runners stopped running altogether to form a committee figuring out how to handle this runner. Some runners cried, "Have Mercy". Others said, "We know he has fallen but we can't judge". All the while, the runner just lay there in his shame and falleness. Realizing he probably would never run again.
And then the rain came. And it got muddy and people started yelling louder at each other and throwing mud. Sometimes the clumps of mud would hit others around and finally there was a whole host of runners who were just laying there on the ground holding their wounded arms and legs and hearts.
The runner wanted to get up but he knew these people he had been running with would never let him run freely again. As he slowly got up and started to walk again he limped. But he believed those words that he would never run again. He was disqualified for sure. This was one of those unacceptable falls that no one would ever forget or forgive him for.
And the worst part?
He would never be able to forgive himself. He loathed himself for what he had become.
And there he stayed over to the side of the pack, wondering how to ever run again.
This morning I woke up with the word Disqualified on my mind.
What makes one feel disqualified from running?
I have been there. Sometimes it's because of falls of our own choices. Sometimes because of pits others throw us in. We no longer hold the perfect runner award someone had placed above our head, but instead the biggest loser who didn't measure up. And we feel disqualified from ministry. Or life in general. Maybe you feel disqualified from running with those you had run before.
The bottom line is this... We all trip. We all are guilty of mudslingin' and falling. But there is good news for you today if you have been struggling in the race.
We have a forerunner who came and ran a perfect race.
No stumbles. No falls. No Failures.
He was judged by those around him.
He's the one who will be the final official when the race is over.
Those around you can say whatever they want to, but he's the one who decides in the end.
And the best part?
He paid the price so you don't have to. He gave his life for you. And although you may have really been as bad as everyone says, He tells you that he still loves you and wants you to confess your wrong and move forward.
He wants you to get up and run hard. And while we run the race to please him, and nothing we do is hid from his gaze, It's not our perfection but His that makes the difference for us in the end.
Run with your head up because HE has not Disqualified you.
You are in this race to win.
You are his child. And you can do all things through his strength.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,~Hebrews 12:1