Running the Boston Marathon this week was an amazing experience, in so many ways. Not the least was the estimated one million supporters who lined the 42-kilometre route. But this was especially notable over the final 6–7 kilometres when the roar of the crowd was almost deafening. I have never experienced anything like it. Wearing my South African running kit with my name on the front and back resulted in some “personal” encouragements. Complete strangers were shouting my name, and besides the odd, “Go South America,” most got the country right!
But there was one particular phrase that became one of my favourites. Over the final kilometres people kept shouting, “You got this!” It was their way of encouraging us that the worst was behind us and the finish line was nearing. Though at times I felt like the chilly and wet weather, along with the nasty head-wind, actually had me, it was great to know that the end was near. Crossing that finish line was an emotional experience and a very, very happy moment. The hard work was behind me, the medal was around my neck and rest and relaxation with loved ones awaited. Kind of like heaven.
My daughter Katy ran the race as well (she and Neil Cable ran way in front of me; they “got this” much sooner than I did!). Katy later told me that, when she came down that final couple of kilometre stretch, she kept thinking how this is how it will be when we finish the race and enter into the joy of the Lord.
Katy had dedicated her race to my parents. She told them that she so appreciated their faithfulness to the Lord for all of these years and that she admired how they were finishing well. That is how she wants to live her life and therefore how she wanted to finish the marathon.
Katy told me she imagined that, when my parents finish their race, the saints who have gone before, along with the host of angels, will be shouting, “You got this!” followed by cheers of “Well done, enter into the joy of your Lord.” I concur.
Having recently preached through Hebrews chapters 11–12, such a scene seems to be imaged in technicolour on my heart and mind—with one major difference. In the race of faith, it is not a matter of the Lord saying to us, “You got this!” but rather a matter of His reminding us, “I’ve got you! So hang in there and run the race.”
I finished the Boston Marathon placing 7,246th. Not exactly a gold medal finish, yet the crowds of supporters cheered me on like I was setting a world record.
Nearly 15 hours after I finished the marathon, a man with muscular dystrophy completed the race at 4:30 AM the next morning. A crowd of many people was still near the finish cheering him on. He finished dead last. But he was treated like a champion. And he was. He did not quit. He kept going with helpers along the way who were conveying, “We’ve got you and therefore you got this.” Their undying encouragement reminded me of Jesus. He is our Champion (Hebrew 2:10) who will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He graciously speaks to us exhorting us, “You got this. You will make it. You will finish. And when you think that you can’t take another step then be assured that I will get you over the finish line. For in fact, even when you thought that you were taking steps, it was me who was empowering you then as well. Yes, because I’ve got this, you got this too.”
Dear Christian, keep running the race, remembering the gospel as you look to Jesus the Author and the Finisher of your faith. Be encouraged that, one day, you will turn the corner and the finish line of glory will be in view. And then you will be embraced joyfully as you cross it. But related to this, let us encourage one another in this race. When you see your brother or sister in Christ cramping up, freezing up and wanting to quit, come alongside, speak God’s gospel into their lives reminding them that because He has them, they’ve got this.