Have You Dropped the Baton?
“Therefore, I run thus but not with uncertainty . . .”
—1 Corinthians 9:26—
Something I enjoy very much is watching the Summer and Winter Olympics. I’m especially mindful of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. There we watched some nine-thousand Olympians as they competed to show the world that they were the best in their sport; that they were worthy to receive the coveted gold medal. They each knew what they wanted, so they relentlessly trained for years for this very moment, hoping to bring home “the gold.” Unfortunately, 8121 athletes went home without a medal to show for their efforts.
In many people’s eyes, the athletes who failed to medal returned home “losers.” These people couldn’t be more wrong if they tried. The real truth of the matter is every single Olympian came home a winner. They may not have brought a medal with them, but they returned home with something much more important—their honor. They returned home with the honor of knowing they did their best.
I can’t help but think of the women’s 400 meter relay race where the American women were highly favored to win. But as fate would have it, in the last leg of the race, Lauren Williams dropped the baton as it was passed to her by Tori Edwards. Edwards immediately buried her face in her hands in anguish while Williams, in front of a huge audience, returned to the baton that laid forlornly on the track, picked it up, sprinted her leg, and crossed the finish line in last place. However, because the baton had been dropped, not only did the American team lose the race, they were disqualified.
Because of their disqualification, the record books will say that Lauren Williams didn’t finish the race, but she did. And in doing so she showed the spirit of a true lover of the sport. Maybe she didn’t bring home the gold for her country, but she certainly was no loser. Her honor was intact; she never quit, she never gave up.
My point is this: Like the Beijing Olympians, many believers start out their spiritual race with great determination and enthusiasm. They train carefully for a time, but soon they tire of the effort and begin to break training. Before long they become disqualified to be an effective witness because they have allowed their everyday affairs, personal interests, and oftentimes just plain laziness to obstruct their spiritual growth and service. Their failure to maintain their spiritual training amounts to dropping their spiritual baton.
But here’s the good news—dropping our spiritual baton does not permanently disqualify us. All we have to do is what Lauren Williams did. Pick it up, get back into the race, and run until the day you cross the finish line. It’s never too late!
“. . . if only I may finish the race, and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me . . .”
It’s never too late to get back in the race,