2 Timothy 4:7-8
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store 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 longed for his appearing.”
The “Fight”-er is persistent in the ring. The runner perseveres in the “Race”. The “Faith”-ful is purposeful in practice. All exhibit the same quality:firmness of commitment.
Not all athletes in the Hall of Fame have won a Championship. And not all who have won a Championship are in the hall of fame.
52 Hall of Fame NFL players have never won a Super Bowl. Some of the best NBA players now in the Hall never won a Championship ring. 40 of the greatest MLB players who never won a World Series Title are in the Hall.
Paul in his above letter to Timothy:
Doesn’t confirm the fight won, the top podium at the race’s end nor the fulfillment of faith’s fruits among all peoples. Discipleship of all the nations of the world is too not guaranteed.
As it is with the athlete it also is with the common man and woman. It matters not the victory secured but the character of the individual who is in pursuit of it. Things not visible to the eye appears in the heart and has a profound effect upon the soul. A champion is not justified by a plaque on a wall nor trophy on a mantle. But, rather, is so in the immortal words of Rudyard Kipling (IF) and Washington Gladden (ULTIMA VERITAS):
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on! – Kipling
In the darkest night of the year,
When the stars have all gone out.
Courage is better than fear,
faith is truer than doubt. – Gladden
Though the chest be bare of medal and the head unadorned by wreath there is a crown awaiting all who possess the credentials of one who has endured the inner conflict of one in this world to that of one of it. If in the end, when last breaths are drawn, one finds one’s will matched with that of God’s then the crown of Glory will be found placed upon one’s brow.
No matter how great the challenge nor dire the outcome may seem:
“NEVER GIVE UP!”