running the race

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I haven’t done this in a long time, but I’m going to do it again. I’m going to preach. I went to church today at 12 Stone Church in Lawrenceville, GA. I love this church. Today began with worship and two baptisms of men in their 40-50’s. My heart swelled for them.

As some of you may know, and others no clue, I have several friends in the Olympic Trials this week. One of my best friends, Norris Frederick, is one of those people. In the past he’s been a high jumper, but now he focuses on long jump. Tonight he jumps in the finals to make the Olympic team.

Okay, you’re probably wondering where this is all going. I went to church this morning and my friend is jumping for London. Is there a disconnect?? No. I was in church this morning, where they’re in a series called- It’s a Guy Thing. Lord have mercy on my soul already. What does preaching about men have anything to do with little old me? Well actually, a lot. Last week the message was about father’s and how important a role they play, and God as our one true father play in our lives. Today we talked about going one more round.

Specifically, we spoke on Samson and David. For those of you less entertained by the bible, Samson’s the dude who fell in love with Delihla, who then betrayed him and cut off all his hair. The same Samson that Regina Spektor’s song is about. Well Samson gave up. David, as in David and Goliath- who’s also King David- did not. David faced some crap back in the day. Instead of throwing in the towel though, David got up and went one more round.

There’s this quote by James Corbett- a famous boxer, who at one point in his life fought in one of the longest boxing matches of all time. 61 rounds. about 4 and a half hours long. And he, the champion, said this, “You become a champion by fighting one more round. When things get toughest, you fight one more round.” Cool, huh?

So here’s the difference. Samson fought alone, while David had people in his corner. Samson lives by reflex, while David lived by reflection. Samson was a roamer, while David put down roots.

Kay, that’s all peachy and wonderful but what does that have to do with Norris and the Olympics. Ooooh, everything my friends. You see, in the past few weeks Norris and I have been discussing his faith and his journey with God to carry him in this time of his life. Norris has been challenged with adversity throughout his life and still overcome it all. In large wonderful part, thanks to God.

Here’s the cool thing that came to me this morning. Norris is like David. Norris has people in his corner. A LOT of people. In a little bit, I’ll talk about these people as witnesses. Norris has taken the time in the corner- matter of speaking- to reflect on his journey, on his path with God and where he wants him to go in the future. Finally Norris has put down solid solid roots. Seattle is so much of Norris and his roots, family and friends are all there.

You see, going again with the boxing metaphor, when you go back to your corner after every round; after facing sin, defeat, your burdens and fears; you go back to your corner and reflect. Prayer is that same time. Prayer is when you sit in your corner and analyze. When you give to God and let him fight for you. When ding ding! The bell starts all over again and God covers you.

For Norris, this is the greatest part. In the days leading up to him going to Trials we’ve been discussing giving everything to God. We’ve been talking about giving God the glory of every aspect of his life, his jumps, his training and all. And this was the scripture today…

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses (your friends, family and supporters), let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” -Hebrews 12:1-3

Pretty much quintescential to Norris and what he faces today. But here’s the cool thing. This doesn’t just apply to Norris and his cool life of potentially jumping as an Olympic athlete in London. It applies to you and me too. If you’re questioning if you should throw in the towel, whether it’s to give up on God, work, family, relationships, even on your life- this lesson- this passage- asks you to go one more round. Jesus Christ endured the cross for you and for me so that we may endure the joys and pains of life here on earth before eternity in heaven. Kind of a great burden to bear, if you ask me. God has trusted you with the life you lead. He has given you the opportunity to do with your life great and powerful things. Take them, don’t run scared, don’t fear the challenges God has given you. Face them. Give God the glory of carrying you through them, above them, and past them.

Don’t throw in the towel when the worst is at your feet. Give the worst to God and he’ll take it from there. Trust that he can carry your baggage, cause he knows you sure can’t. Give it to God.

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