I’ve just been reading through the “spiritual series” for this years summer camp of Urban Saints Guildford, which this year I will be leading on for the second week. (N.B. For all other people involved in Christian “camps” in the UK – this is indeed two weeks under canvas, not 10 days in a posh boarding school…) I’ve just had a couple of encouraging planning conversations for the camp, and then in the description for one of the days morning talks there was a link to this sporting occasion: the 1992 heats for the 400m at the Barcelona Olympics. An event which always makes me cry.
Derek Redmond was back from injury, with a realistic medal chance, and going strongly when his hamstring gave way. He fell to the ground, but then as the stretcher approached, he got up back on his feet and hobbled on his way. As he rounded the bend his father pushed aside security, initially to pull his son out of the way. But as it became clear Derek was determined to finish his father acted as his crutch and protector – pushing aside all who wanted his son finishing. You can watch it here.
What caught my attention here was the line from his father right at the end:
We started his career together, I think we should finish it together.
Maybe because I’m pondering Hebrews 12:1-2 at the moment:
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Derek Redmond’s father in that video clip is a wonderful picture of Christ. I might stumble. I might fall. But he will come alongside. He holds. He protects. He keeps to the end. What he started he will finish – no matter how badly I stumble or fall, he is there.
As Paul prays in 1 Thessalonians 5:
23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.
May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.