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Finish well

"Remember this?" asked my brother.

In his hand, he held an old digital stopwatch, vintage 1980s tech, with a bulky, buttercup yellow plastic cover on an already oversized device.

"Yeah," I replied, noting the LCD screen still read 0:00:00 across the face. "Dad's old stopwatch."

In his mid-50s, dad, a chunky former high school football player, had become a devoted fitness fan, losing about 130 pounds of weight over three years through diet and exercise – really rigid exercise.

After he came home from work daily, he'd change clothes, kiss mom and go straight out to walk. But his competitive nature pushed him to walk faster each time, eventually breaking into jogging. He began timing his exercise route with the yellow stopwatch, which was already showing signs of age in the early 1990s, to improve his pace on the race against himself.

But in March 1993, at the age of 59, he went out the door of their home … and never came back. Dead of a heart attack, another jogger found him slumped over by a curb. When they pulled the stopwatch from his hands, instead of showing the amount of time that had elapsed during his walk, it – oddly – read all zeros.

00:00:00. Dad had run out of time. He had finished his race here on earth.

My brother has kept the watch as both a memento of the last thing dad held and a reminder that time, for humans, is finite. We only have so much of it for our work tasks, so much for family, daily routines, travel – for the race we call life – until we hit all zeros.

Paul illustrated his life of faith as an athletic race in his letter to the Christians in Philippi (Philippians 3:12-14). For Paul, life was not only about how you ran the race but also how you finished it. He encouraged his brothers and sisters in faith to finish the race well, to "press on toward the goal to win the (heavenward) prize."

As you run the race of life, are you doing so with a goal of finishing well? As you run all of the little daily races involved with life, are you running them with an eye toward the big prize Paul talked about?

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: 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." –Philippians 3:12-14

Written by Russ Dilday, associate vice president for public relations for Buckner International.

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