Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Many of the world's greatest dramas are not on a stage, not on a screen. They are played out in that quadrennial spectacle we call "The Olympics." Maybe you remember the year that there was this image that many of us will never forget. Britain's representative in the 400-meter race was Derek Redmond, and he began to falter. He went down in the backstretch with a torn right hamstring, and as the medical attendants were approaching, Derek Redmond fought his way to his feet and then he started out again in anguish - he was hopping. He was desperately trying to finish the race. He knew he wouldn't win. He was just trying to finish.

And maybe you remember when he reached that final stretch, a large man in a T-shirt forced his way out of the stands and ran up to Derek and hugged him. Now that big man was Jim Redmond, Derek's father. And he said to him, "Son, you don't have to do this." Gritting his teeth and with tears in his eyes, his son said, "Yes, I do." And his father said, "Well then, we're going to finish this together." And Derek's head sometimes was buried in his father's shoulder, but he stayed in his lane with his father's help until the end. And when they crossed that finish line, the crowd who had been stunned at first stood to their feet. They howled and they wept as those two men finished that race together.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Father to the Finish."

Our word for today from the Word of God is a simple statement from Deuteronomy 1:29. It says this: "The Lord your God carried you as a father carries his son all the way you went until you reached this place."

Maybe today you're really tired. You're banged up. Maybe you're pretty stressed out, and like that 400-meter runner in the Olympics, you're staggering right now. You're having a hard time finishing your race. You started well and you've been running real hard, but you're about to go down, aren't you? Maybe you've been hit by discouragement, or illness, maybe by family trouble, maybe by a lack of support. It could be that there are obstacles, pain, or you're just hurting, and there is still a lot more race ahead of you.

God wants to give you the good news that someone has left the stands to help you, and He's coming to the track to get you the rest of the way. It is your Father. It's your Heavenly Father. First, God left the stands to come to the cross, and there He rescued us from the sin wounds that would have kept us from heaven. There's a rich promise here that when you're in the desert, you can't go on - the resources are dried up. You say, "Daddy, I can't go any farther." He says, "Then I'll carry you."

Right now you're not going to make it alone, but today there's still an all-powerful Father who offers to carry you. But you have to let Him. If you are too proud to collapse in His arms, to surrender to His control, then your power is limited. You're not going to make it. But if you'll totally release the control, and in the words of the Bible, "humble yourself," you'll have all of your Father's power.

Even little children know where the power is. They sing it in that little song "Jesus Loves Me" - "They are weak, but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me." Each of us reaches days when we just don't have any more to give, and maybe you're there right now. It's those moments in the race that can take you deeper into the love and the power of Jesus than you've ever been before.

If you don't know that you belong to Him, you've never needed to belong to Him more. Why don't you tell Him today, "Jesus, I'm yours. You left the stands to come for me." Let me send you my booklet about that relationships called Yours For Life. Your Father is not a spectator in the stands. He wants to put His arm around you right now where you are and say to you, "We're going to finish this together."