There are all kinds of fathers. The ones who help and the ones who hurt. The daddies and the “deadbeats.” The ones who seem larger than life, and the ones whose absence yawned open under your life.
No matter what kind of Father we have while we are here on earth, we all have one waiting for us at the finish line.
And that Father doesn’t expect any of us to run alone.
I went back to my childhood town this weekend for our town’s annual “Marathon to Marathon” event in Marathon, Iowa. Like he’s done for nearly 20 years, Dad was at the finish line with a microphone on the flatbed trailer, in front of the church. He had a long list of names taped to the table, and every time a runner came across the finish line — just like he’s always done — he called out their names.
I wrote about that finish line in the epilogue of my book:
“The Christian and the runner both know this to be true: In that heart-pounding moment when a finish line comes gloriously into view, a person’s perspective completely changes.
Someone might credit adrenaline. Another might say it happens because faith has becomes sign in one magical moment. I suspect it’s a lot of both.
Until that instant when you see the finish, a race can seem brutally unforgiving, even endless.”
I thought about those words as I stood behind Dad, watching dozens of runners cross the finish line this weekend, in a downpour. They ran through the storm.
Life can feel an awful lot like that sometime, like you are never … going … to … make it. Like you’re running in a storm. Every muscle hurts. You want to cry. You do cry.
But you keep on running.
Because a Father is waiting for you. A Father who knows your name, who knows how hard it’s been, who knows how much work it took to get to where you are right now.
Yeah. The Father knows.
Some of the runners show up at the finish line with arms raised, pumping victorious fists into the air. Others stumble across.
But no matter how they get there, Dad always wants the runners to hear their names called out over the loudspeaker.
“There’s something to be said for hearing your name called out, after you’ve worked so hard, trained so long, and come so far,” Dad told me once. “I will never leave the finish line until the last person has crossed over, and I don’t care how long it takes, because I want every person to hear their name.”
Friend, there really is a finish line.
There really is a great crowd of witnesses, waiting. You can’t see them, but they are already cheering for you.
There really is a Father, waiting to welcome you.
And it really is all because of Jesus that you’re running in the first place.
The Father has a race marked out for you. And He will run alongside you until the last light of your life fades.
You can never outrun Jesus. And Jesus’ love will never, ever run out.
It might take the whole rest of our lives before we know the truth in all its magnificent fullness. The good Lord might well have to remind us right up until that moment when we step over the finish line.
And when that glorious finish line comes into view, we will run like mad, and the wind will whip through our hair, and we’ll forget how bad it hurt sometimes. Because we can’t wait to cross over and hear the words we were created to hear at the finish.
Words from our Father: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
And just think: that grand moment will not be the end. We will have only just begun.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 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.” ~ Hebrews 12:1-2
This post contains excerpts from the epilogue of Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval – and Seeing Yourself through God’s Eyes
. Some photos taken by the volunteers of the Marathon to Marathon.