I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day.
–2 Timothy 4:7-8
In the ancient Greek Olympics, the winners would often get all kinds of rewards from their hometown. For example, if you were from Athens and you came home an Olympic champion, you would be exempt from paying taxes. Now that would be a reward worth running for! But Scripture says as Christians, we have an even greater reward awaiting us if we run with endurance. Hebrews 11:6 says, “He who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” That is why we keep our eyes on the prize–we know that God has promised to reward us.
Orville Rogers was a member of our congregation at First Baptist Dallas who died a few years ago at the age of 101. Halfway through his life, he took up aerobics with Dr. Ken Cooper. Orville liked to say he was doing aerobics before it was the cool thing to do. He started running in races all over the country, and he gained national fame setting records for his age. He learned the secret of endurance.
When I think about Orville, I think about several different scenes. I think about him jumping out of an airplane on his ninetieth birthday. I think about those endless videos of him crashing through the tape at the finish line, his hands held high.
But the thing I think about most when I think about Orville is a scene from two nights before he died. He was in the bed, in and out of sleep, but when he knew I was there, he grabbed my hand, and he said, “Pastor, I’m so thankful, I’m so thankful, I’m so thankful.” He could not stop saying that. What was he thankful for? He did not mention his wealth or his medals. What he was thankful for, he said, was that God was willing to sacrifice His own Son to provide eternal life for him.
Until the day he died, Orville never got over the fact that Jesus died for him. That was the foundation of everything in his life. He never lost sight of that. And that is why he was able to approach the end of his life just like the apostle Paul, who wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Spiritual Aerobics” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.
Christopher Klein, “5 Myths about the Ancient Olympics,” History, August 10, 2012, https://www.history.com/news/5-myths-about-the-ancient-olympics.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org