I just read about Manteo Mitchell a runner on the US Olympic Track and Field team who ran his part of the 4×400-meter relay with a broken left fibula. The break didn’t occur until about halfway through his 400 meters and when it did it sent a lot of pain coursing through his body with every stride. In spite of the pain, he kept running and finished his part of the relay. The words he repeated in his head while he finished the race were “faith, focus, finish,” which for him seemed to work. It’s incredible that Manteo would complete the race he was called to be a part of while enduring that much pain but as he stated he was willing to do anything to win.
Wow – do you have that kind of courage or determination for your life? Few of us do, that is why Manteo is an instant inspiration to us. But what does Manteo’s accomplishment really inspire us to? Does it simply encourage us to exert the physical efforts necessary to complete our tasks or should it drive us to more than that? I believe it should lift us up to more. I believe it is only a small modern day example that points us back to the greatest inspiration ever in human history.
When we think of man’s existence and his tendencies towards failure, sin, compromise and defeat, its easy to see that man as a whole is fractured. What God designed to operate at prime capacity with easy and fluidity has been broken by a slight bump in the road called temptation at which man slipped and fell. Of course man thinks really nothing of this and keeps going without the perception that something on a deeper level is wrong. However, when it comes to the end of this life and we must take the final few strides from here into the great beyond, many will hear the cracking of the weight of sin and slip under its burden falling headlong into an eternity of darkness and torment.
Yes, there truly is a hell and although many preachers and spiritual guides shy away from the topic, it is evident throughout the pages of scripture that it exists and we are vehemently warned against ending up there. In fact, God so desires that we avoid such a place that He was willing to step down off of His throne in the heavens and put on a robe of flesh to dwell among us here on earth for a brief time. During that short encounter, He provided such terrific instruction for us that simply reading and applying the words He spoke would be enough for anyone to understand His love and compassion. However, God understood and still does to this day that example speaks louder than words so in His flesh, He was willing to be broken on our behalf.
He may not have had any bones broken but his flesh was pounded repeatedly, it was ripped open, bruised and bloodied. Nails were forcibly driven through gentle hands and peaceful feet; thorns were beaten down upon a tender brow, His beard plucked out in fistfuls by jealous and insensitive captors. Spittle from the crowd mingled with the oozing blood streaming down His sweat soaked skin as He carried the weight of a solid wood cross. And lastly His side was split open by a final thrust of a lance, piercing His heart and from which blood and water flowed out.
Why was a blameless, righteous man as Jesus was willing to endure this breaking? Because He was willing to do anything to win! But what was the prize? Not immortality in history pages, although that was achieved. Not, some final glorious resting place, remember He had already given that up to be with us. Not even the respect and admiration of the heavenly host, since it was already His. The prize was souls. Yours, mine and everyone’s through out all of time, as we know it. He paid the price of sin for us. He showed the courage and devotion we are incapable of. He taught us faith, through his words. He stayed focus through the crucifixion so that the penalty of sin would be finished in our favor.
“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” John 19:30 KJV
“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 12:2 KJV
“But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” Romans 6:22 KJV
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2 KJV
Occasionally, God gives us reminders like Manteo Mitchell’s experience to point us back to what is truly important. And even in Manteo’s case the most important thing is not that he finished the race on a fractured leg but the three words that popped in his head at the moment of his pain, which encouraged him to finish well. Faith, Focus, Finish!
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 KJV
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 KJV
“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13 KJV
“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” 1 Peter 4:7 KJV
“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24 KJV
“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,” Hebrews 12:1 KJV
Let Manteo Mitchell’s fractured finish inspire you to accomplish greater things but let Jesus’ brokenness put an end to your sin and suffering today by claiming His fractured finish as your own.
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9 KJV