I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7 (NIV).
Today is my nephew’s graduation day. He has worked hard for 13 years to get to this day, and it’s a good time to both reflect and look forward. In my opinion, graduation addresses are boring and easily forgotten. This particular young man also doesn’t have an active Christian belief, doesn’t practice much in the way of faith, and doesn’t believe in Jesus. To be honest, that’s ok. Jesus believes in him. As long as he lives, unless today is the last day of his existence, Jesus will keep working, keep providing, keep helping and hoping, keep loving him until time runs out. It’s what the Lord does.
For this young man – and actually for all graduates – I wish him well, congratulations, and endurance. The phase of life that starts today for him will be a fight, will be a long race, and will need faith. He may not understand that, and being a kid he rebels against that; most of us do at one point or another. But that doesn’t stop the fight, stop the race, or negate our critical need for faith.
Without faith in Jesus, the fight isn’t worth fighting. Give up and just dive into the world. You’ll get what you get and I hope it doesn’t eat you alive because the world won’t care if it does. And if you don’t want to run the race, give up. You’ll have a tough time getting past that, and I’ll be happy to console you, but I won’t feel sorry for you. Indeed, I hope nobody does. There’s a difference between giving up and stopping because you leave the outcome to the Lord. That’s a hard difference to see, to even comprehend, without trusting that Christ knows what He’s doing and is helping us to get through the hard fights and long races.
Keeping the faith means trusting Him in all things, all ways, always. That isn’t easy. It defies that world that’s fighting against us, racing against us. But the crazy miracle is that the faith makes all the difference in our lives. It makes the tough fight ‘fightable.’ It makes the race winnable because it has already been won for us. We get to cross the line and receive the laurel from God Almighty Jesus Himself. It doesn’t matter what the fallen world thinks of us. What matters is keeping the faith, believing, submitting to Jesus and His better way, His purposes. Jesus is the finish line; Jesus is the bell at the end of the round.
Paul knew this 2000 years ago. It’s still true today. God bless the graduates. Enjoy this day you worked for and winning this race. Then line up and get ready for the next one. You’re in it already.
For further reading: 1 Corinthians 9:24, Acts 20:24, 2 Timothy 4:8
God bless those graduating and running their race.