As the story goes, in 490 BC the Persian army of General Datis had engaged an attack against the Greek army at the plains of Marathon. The Greeks were successful and sent Pheidippides, a professional runner-messenger, to bring word of this victory to Athens. It was a grueling run of some 40 km, and Pheidippides was already exhausted from taking part in the battle. He arrived, announcing “Rejoice! We conquer!” then dropped dead.
That’s the way I would like to die.
I know well already from my years of running that sense of determination pressing forward through ripping sleet, dodging ice, splashing mud, sweat, filth, heat, cold and hunger… but succeeding! Reaching the end of a competitive race or against one’s own PB*, collapsing, rehydrating, and later after shower and fresh clothing the satisfaction of having fought and won. The body is stronger, the mind is crisper, and the spirit is bolstered for the simpler challenges of the day.
At the spiritual level the analogy holds. We “press on” through the evil forces of this world, our own fallen flesh, and the principalities and powers that oppose us. We maintain faith, we rest confident in the completeness of Christ’s sacrifice, and we bear our bit of testimony to it. As was revealed to John,
“They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (Rev. 12:11).
To arrive at the end and gasp, “Rejoice! We conquer!”
Do you see the hope of the resurrection in this? What is it “to arrive at the end” if it is not to arrive at the eternity beyond death… to at last shed death, corruption, and the evils of this world, spirit and flesh… to fully put on immortality, clean, washed fresh and white with nothing around to again soil.
It is the reality of the resurrection with gives the determination to press on, press through, receive the wounds and the beatings… these all will be war wounds, battle scars, trophies and souvenirs of victorious faith… faith in Christ… faith in our redemption through Him, and ultimate resurrection…
Press on…. Press on indeed…
“…for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:4, 5).
• PB = “personal best” (i.e. time, distance).