The successful young athlete was into the final kilometre of the final ‘Triathlon World Series’ event of the 2016 season. The Mexican heat was searing. He was way ahead, but there was something very wrong with his running gait. His feet were determined to move forward but the rest of his body was leaning bizarrely backwards. Just as Jonny’s knees buckled and a steward reached out to pull him from the race for medical treatment, his brother rounded the corner and wrestled him away. Then, as Henri Schoeman of South Africa glided past both of them to win, Alistair wrapped his little brother’s right arm over his shoulder and gripped Jonny’s hand. Together, in perfect rhythm for most of the way, they ran the rest of the race of the race together. Then Alistair very deliberately stopped short of the finish line and threw Jonny over first.
Friend, the Bible shows us that God never intended us to run our life’s race on our own. “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand…. for I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you ‘Do not fear; I will help you’.“ (Isaiah 41)
Because God loves each one of us, from before the beginning he designed us for communion with himself. When it all went horribly wrong he sent a Saviour to rescue us from a life and an eternity without him…. because he loves each one of us. Digest again these words of Jesus: ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easyand my burden is light’ (Matthew 11).
If you have never gone to the Lord for rest, do it this year. The exhausting weight of the race is lifted by God our Father, Jesus our Saviour and the Holy Spirit our Comforter. Some-one has said, ‘If you want to be distressed: look within. If you want to be defeated: look back. If you want to be distracted: look around. If you want to be dismayed: look ahead. If you want to be delivered: look up.’
If you have drifted from the rest that you once knew, return! Rest from bandaging your own wounds; rest from bearing the weight of a polluted, greedy and barbaric world on your own small shoulders; rest from all self-sufficient striving in the race by trusting in your own feeble strength.
‘Return to your rest, my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.’
Let us all keep returning!!