Apples of Gold

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The race set before us

‘Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.’

Hebrews 12 Verses 1 & 2

Once again the sky is blue and the sun is shining. Yes, it’s true! Summer 2003 has arrived in the Western Isles and not before time. Everyone in our village of Tong is on a high at present as tomorrow is the highlight of our calendar. The famous Lewis Highland Games takes place in our village on Saturday and preparations are well under way.

Mums and Grannies are busy baking while Dads and Granddads lend a hand erecting the big marquis and setting out the running track. Highland dancers are coming from Canada (Alberta, I think) and Zulu’s from Africa will be entertaining the crowds. It truly is a wonderful family day out.

You know, it does not matter what we are involved in, there is always something that should direct out thoughts towards spiritual matters.

I started thinking upon the various races that will be held tomorrow. There will be the 100m, 200m, 400m, 1500m and the race around the village to finish. I was never great at running when I was in school, though I took part in most events. I tried my best but I was never good enough to win anything.

It is really strange! I had no real stamina for say the 1500m races, yet if a football were placed at my feet then I would happily run the equivalent of a marathon and think nothing of it!

‘The Author and Finisher of our faith.’ This text has captivated my thoughts. Tomorrow we will have someone to start each race and no doubt two folk holding the tape at the finish. It will not be the same person.

I thought of how I had started in the race. I had been ‘just one of the crowd’ mulling around aimlessly, watching this and that, passing the day with no aim, objective or purpose. It was easy to go to a lost eternity. I simply had to carry on the way I was going!

My soul however heard a call, an announcement, a herald of Good News. A race was beginning and I was invited to enter. I was heavily laden, carrying too much excess baggage to run properly and the Evangelist told me to ‘lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset me.’ Gladly did my soul hear this message.

Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. I came to the Author as I was, and asked for help in removing my load. It was He who had begun this work in me.  I had to be Born Again to enter this race. I had to become a new creation in Christ Jesus. With joy unspeakable my soul accepted the cleansing, the washing, a new heart and the dynamic of the resurrected Christ.

Before I go any further, my soul was arrested this morning as I read these words, ‘the sin which doth so easily beset us.’ Especially ‘the sin!’ What sin? Ah! That sin! Yep, the one that plagues me more than any other. That darling sin of mine. The one that causes me more grief than any other. The sin of unbelief! I had to dump it!

Even as I ditch it, in my mind I wonder for how long? Bah!! Sin!

I set off at a great sprint. I love this new life and I have a great affection for my companions in this race. This newness of life is great! I shout to the spectators to ‘come and join us!’ They think I’m mad, but they do not know what they are missing.

I can hear some of their comments. ‘Why does he not go around with us anymore?’ ‘This won’t last, he’ll soon give up and come back to us.’

I wondered how long this race going to last? Perhaps I had not paced myself properly. Some of my new friends had finished already. Theirs was a short race, now they were safely Home.

WOW!

What was that? A hurdle? Who put that there? Nobody told me about obstacles being in the way! The wind also seems to be picking up! Phew! I am exhausted, I need help! I’m never going to finish!

The Author sent Words to encourage me and I was revitalised. What energy these Words contained!

There have been times when the race has seemed beyond me. Often I have felt like giving up, yet I cannot. A smile or a kind word from my companions help from time to time. Nothing beats the Words from the Author.

I must pass on His Words to the others in the race. It seems He has a Word for every obstacle in my path. Well, He should know as He had run the race before. He knows the way that I take.

The longer the race goes on the more I realise the importance of keeping my focus on the Bright Light at the finish. The track is narrow yet it is littered with handfuls of purpose.

Often I have gone off the track and found myself wallowing in a peat bog called doubt. I am laughed to scorn by the spectators who see me, however I am thankful when grace and mercy are restored by the hand of encouragement.

The love the Author has for me is beyond question. Each day He has a new Word for me. He promises glory for all those who finish the course. He has also told me that He has seen to it that everyone who has started the race will finish it!