In a blog post from Wednesday, 24 October 2012 titled “DON’T THROW IN THE TOWEL”, Roger Ewing, Senior Pastor of White Oak Worship Center in Blairs, Virginia, recounts an experience Chadwick once had while swimming another famed channel – this one running between the Channel Islands and the California coast. He writes:
From the booklet Bits and Pieces comes an interesting story about Florence Chadwick, the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. On the Fourth of July in 1951, she attempted to swim from Catalina Island to the California coast. The challenge was not so much the distance, but the bone-chilling waters of the Pacific. To complicate matters, a dense fog lay over the entire area, making it impossible for her to see land. After about 15 hours in the water, and within a half mile of her goal, Chadwick gave up.
Later she told a reporter, "Look, I'm not excusing myself. But if I could have seen land, I might have made it." Not long afterward she attempted the feat again. Once more a misty veil obscured the coastline and she couldn't see the shore. But this time she made it because she kept reminding herself that land was there. With that confidence she bravely swam on and achieved her goal. In fact, she broke the men's record by 2 hours!
Hebrews 10:35 and 36 states “Cast not away therefore your confidence which has great recompense of reward. For you have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God, you might receive the Promise.” I have said many times before that it is not always about those who start the race, but rather those who finish. The fact is that many will start in this race, and let’s be honest; you do have to start to finish. I congratulate you on your acceptance of God’s Gift, Jesus Christ. You are now in the race! This is wonderful, but now you must run in faith to finish.
Indeed the writer of the New Testament Book of Hebrews understood this principle well. The whole of the eleventh and twelfth chapters draws upon the ancient Greek athletic games. After painting a word picture of a stadium filled with the saints of the Old Testament, he then bids us, his readers, thus:
1Therefore, 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, 2fixing 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. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
The Apostle Paul also understood this principle. His Second New Testament Letter to Timothy shows us this. After charging young Timothy with the responsibilities of faithfully discharging the ministry that God has given to him (chapter 4, verse 1-5), Paul states that he is now ready to depart this life (verse 6) because:
7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now 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.
This serves as a subtle reminder to each of us that it is oh so important to complete the race God has marked out for us. As with so many things, the race of life is easy to begin, but hard to finish. And yet, the real reward is not nearly so much to be found in the beginning of a thing as it is in the completing of it. Indeed, the starting line arguably has little significance apart from its relation to the finishing line.
And like the Apostle Paul, I want to finish the race I am running well. And when I do, I want the Lord to be pleased with my effort. For He, and He alone, will be my “righteous Judge”. I trust the same desire holds true for you.
_in_the_towel_. The Chadwick story as cited in Bits and Pieces is available widely on the internet.
SCRIPTURE SOURCE: http://biblehub.com/niv/hebrews/12.htm and http://bible