Finish the Race!

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)
12. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 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. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Have you ever seen the movie Jumanji? It was a favorite around our house for years. For those who have not seen it, here is a brief description of the plot.
A magical board game unleashes a world of adventure on siblings Peter (Bradley Pierce) and Judy Shepherd (Kirsten Dunst). While exploring an old mansion, the youngsters find a curious, jungle-themed game called Jumanji in the attic. When they start playing, they free Alan Parrish (Robin Williams), who’s been stuck in the game’s inner world for decades. If they win Jumanji, the kids can free Alan for good — but that means braving giant bugs, ill-mannered monkeys and even stampeding rhinos! (description from Google search)
While I realize that our walk with God is not a game, how often do we quit in the middle because it got too hard, we became afraid or thought the cost was too great? Just like in the game, life often gets hard when we are in the middle of it. Life is messy. It makes marks on us and sometimes leaves us changed. We have to make decisions we don’t like or give up things we don’t want to lose. People enter and leave our lives and their absence scares us and leaves alone.
At the beginning of the movie one boy and one girl begin playing the game. The boy’s move ends up with him being sucked into the game and the girl runs away in fear. Her actions result in the boy being trapped in the game because she was too afraid to continue.
I wonder how many times in my own fear, I ran away from something God was calling me to do and resulted in someone or myself being stuck in circumstances that could have been resolved quicker if only I hadn’t been afraid to heed his guiding.
Another aspect of the movie reflects the feelings of the original boys relationship with his father. The boy perceives his father as cold and uncaring. In fact, during the continued play of the game, his father depicts the bad guy chasing the players throughout the game. In the end, the boy comes to realize that things his father did or allowed to happen to him were because the father knew these things would teach and strengthen the boy into a strong man.
Don’t we often, in the midst of our life troubles, perceive God as cold and uncaring? Can you look back on events in your life and see where certain situations strengthened and taught you into being a better person? Can you now see God’s bigger picture?
The final thing I want to relate to our lives is not giving up. At the end of the movie, after many fearful adventures, the game is finished and everything that was destroyed or changed physically is restored. In fact, the game ends back with just the two original players. The other two players haven’t even been born yet. The original boy and girl are both physically fine, but mentally and spiritually have grown to be much deeper and perceptive people. The game, for them, gave them a glimpse of the big picture, not only for their own lives but for the lives of the two other players and their future. With that knowledge, they are able to make decisions throughout their own lives that later have a positive impact on the other two children later.
Perhaps we can take a lesson from this movie and begin to trust God and his view of the big picture. We can finish the game or the race before us and let him work through us to accomplish things in our lives and the lives of others. As Christians, we know that in the game of life, God does win in the end.