By Jeff Ginn
A good start doesn’t guarantee a good finish. I learned that lesson by running distance events in high school. The runners that sprinted the first couple of hundred yards and gained an early lead were not necessarily (nor even likely) to be the ones that finished the race well.
This is illustrated well by a couple of world-class milers. The first man ever to run the mile in less than four minutes was Roger Bannister. He did so in 1954. Later that same year, a second runner accomplished the same feat and set a new world record. His name was John Landy. Soon enough those two runners met in a long-awaited duel. It was dubbed the “Miracle Mile.” 100 million people listened via radio to see who would win their match.
At the gun, Landy had a strong start. In fact, he led the race until the final curve. Because of the way the sun was set in the sky, he could clearly see his shadow and Bannister’s shadow on the track. He estimated that he was some 10 to 15 yards in the lead. To confirm this, he turned his head to gauge Bannister’s position. Bannister took that opportunity to pass him on his blind side. In doing so, he edged out a victory over Landy.
A sculpture of the race-deciding moment stands today near the spot where the duel was held.
Landy later said, “I would have won the race if I hadn’t looked back; if I hadn’t taken my eyes off the goal.”
He had a good start, but that doesn’t guarantee a good finish. To win we have to keep our eyes on the goal.
Landy reminds me of the biblical character whose story we will revisit over the next couple of weeks. His name is Samson.
Samson started well, but finished poorly. He fought the Lord’s battles by day but broke the Lord’s commandments by night. He was strong before men, but weak before women. His name meant “sunshine” but he ended his life blinded by the very enemies he was sent to conquer.
Our consolation is that though Samson did not finish as well as he could have, God was not finished doing His work. As we will see, God is going to carry through to completion what neither Samson, nor any of us, can do on our own. He is going to save us from our sins and make possible an abundant life that stretches from now to eternity.
Jeff Ginn is senior pastor at Istrouma Baptist Church in Baton Rouge. This editorial first appeared on his Facebook page.