Run in such a way that you will win – for the eternal prize (by Maurice Archer)
Above: Maurice Archer running towards the end, with the “Shekinah Glory” of God resting on his shoulders. Right: Maurice Archer holding the Scripture “Zechariah 4:6 – Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord” pinned to the back of his vest.
Although our final victory over death through Christ is already assured, we must strive for daily victory over the issues and temptations we face now. We discipline ourselves to experience the joy and victory God intends for us now. Look hard at your spiritual life. Are you vigorously participating in the game, barely keeping pace, or merely watching from the stands?
Each year, the running of the “George Archer International Six Day (144 hours) Circuit Race” is held in March. In 2006 on the eve of this race I was preparing and setting up my tent for the next 6 days when I received a call from “our spiritual mom”, Lorri, who prayed with me and then sang an anointed song which left us both weeping. It was then that I realized that this was going to be a race with a difference.
A race which I dedicated my God given talent to my Lord Jesus Christ. I had to endure for Jesus.
As I packed out my supplies, donated to me by Pastor Dirk and Diane through the collection done by the Children’s Church, I thought of the “loneliness of a long distance runner.” As it turned out, this was not the case, for six long days and nights I ran with constant praise and worship songs ringing out through my earphones. Just before the start of the race, I had the privilege of opening the race in prayer, hoping that each athlete would be touched and strengthened to endure to the end.
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” This thought kept running through my mind. As the days wore on and the tiredness from lack of sleep crept in, so too was the aching of the leg muscles as they kept on going, feeling the pressure of the pace, I reminded myself that “Jesus” had already run the race and finished it for me a long time ago. All I had to do was to run in such a way as to receive the eternal prize. As the hours turned to days, runners would ask me to pray with them, this gave me the opportunity to tell them about this awesome God that I serve. We are “Christ’s” ambassadors and God uses us to speak to others.
From the darkness of the nights to the dawning of each new day, from the cool mornings to the heat of the noon day sun, from the rising to the setting of the sun, the runners kept on going. And through all these times, I found myself speaking to the Lord with a joyful heart.
I knew that Pastor Gray, Lorri and the Church Family were lifting me up in prayer and this was giving me that extra strength. The visit by Pastor Dirk, Diane, Brad and Elaine was a welcome pleasure. The week drew to its end and then there was one day left and on this last day, car loads of Christian Community Church members, led by Pastor Gray flowed into the grounds. What a sight it was.
I continued to run as they all wished me well with greetings and applause as they set up camp and began to prepare their breakfast and support their brother in Christ. As the race drew to its end at 10 am that morning, I came running up the straight towards the finish line Pastor Gray, Lorri and the whole family stepped up to the edge of the track, all singing the song “Alive, alive, alive forevermore, my Jesus is alive”. Ronell’s sister René stepped out and took a photo of my approach with my hand reaching to the sky. “Tears of humility flow freely down my cheeks as I recall that awesome moment.” The camera flashed and caught the tongues of fire from my legs all the way up my body and into the sky above my head.
Praise God Almighty, “the Shekinah Glory”! Pastor Gray explained to me later, he himself had only seen it perhaps twice before. Paul’s words: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful, and now the prize awaits me – the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the Righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but all who eagerly look forward to His glorious return.”
At times in my life, I have felt the acceleration of a racing car motor screaming in my ears. The wind rushing through my helmet of a speeding bike. The adrenalin of entering the boxing ring with the crowd’s screams drowning out the voice of the ring announcer. None of these feelings will ever come close or compare to the awesome manifestation of the Holy Spirit in your life. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Pray without ceasing. Jesus certainly is the answer. In Him you can find new hope.
Thankful and humble, Maurice Archer.