In every race comes a moment of “will I finish.” It must have crossed the mind of a Sri Lankan runner in the 1964 Tokyo games.

The country sent a team to the games, including Ranatunge Karunananda, who ran the 10,000-meter race.

The race’s victor was Billy Mills of the United States. When he crossed the finish line, Karunananda had no chance at a metal. He was four laps behind.

The crowd expected Karunananda to quit, but he kept running.

After some time, he entered the arena, but the spectators were now cheering. They realized he was not growing the quit. Instead, they were encouraging him to finish his race.

When the race was over, interviewers asked, “why didn’t you quit?” He said:

“The Olympic spirit is not to win but to take part. So, I completed my rounds.”

Christian living takes its toll at times. The racecourse of life provides obstacles and challenges. It’s tempting to think, “what’s the use?”

Yet, Paul hit significant roadblocks in his life. He lay on a gravel road, stone pelting him. He faced a conspiracy to kill him and then got caught in the bureaucracy of the Roman judgment system. He sat in prison when so much of his mission went unfinished.

Instead, he took Karunananda’s viewpoint.

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:13-14)

Run the race to finish it. Disappointments and stone walls arise. But run on.

In the end, Karunananda’s impressed the Japanese that it had a place in the children’s textbooks.

Let your perseverance in Christ stand as such an example.

-Robert G. Taylor-