According to Joseph Stowell, “The Greeks had a race in their Olympic games that was unique. The winner was not the runner who ﬁnished ﬁrst. It was the runner who ﬁnished with his torch still lit” (Fan the Flame, 32). Such an accomplishment would require more time, greater tact, and different talent.
This runner would have to have endurance. Christians also are running a race of endurance:
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, 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 12:1–2).
Paul tells us via his letter to the Corinthian church that love “endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). The word Paul used to speak of the endurance of godly love is the same word used to describe Jesus’ endurance of the cross (Hebrews 12:2) and the Christian’s endurance in the faithful race (Hebrews 12:1). Therefore, we may conclude that a person who loves like Christ (which is this love of which we speak) can endure like Christ. No matter the persecution, the tribulation, the temptation, or the situation, we can endure it if we have this kind of love. When the one you thought was a friend does something unfriendly, endure. When the love of your life ruins your night, endure. When your co-workers don’t work and rather complain, endure. When the nation crashes down town by town, … endure. When your faith brings strife and even requires your life, endure. That’s love. I will conclude with words shared by a friend:
- Pressed out of measure and pressed to all length,
- Pressed so intensely it seems beyond strength.
- Pressed in the body and pressed in the soul.
- Pressed in the mind until the dark surges roll.
- Pressed by foes and pressed by friends,
- Pressure upon pressure till life nearly ends.
- Pressed into loving the staff and the rod.
- Pressed into knowing no helper but God.
- Pressed into liberty where nothing clings.
- Pressed into faith for impossible things.
- Pressed into living a life in the Lord.
- Pressed until a Christ-like life is outpoured.