The beginnings of this post have sat in my drafts since last October, waiting for the right moment. Today it seems is that moment.
Hebrews 12: 1-3 "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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
I had the privilege this morning to participate in the memorial service for Steve Taylor (click here to learn more about him). Steve had planned the service himself--choosing the praise songs we sang, the message that he wanted conveyed to those in attendance. His request for those of us in the Praise Team was to cut loose during the service, giving me freedom to truly enjoy the service. He really wanted people to feel and enjoy the songs and messages. At one point, I found myself dancing in my chair, humming along to the music as we watched a video from his trips to Coast Hospice in Mimbosa, Kenya.
Steve is the model of finishing well. His race was not easy but he focused on the greater purpose. More than 3 years ago, he returned from Africa, ill. Doctors originally thought it was Malaria but came to realize it was colon cancer that had spread to his liver. That diagnosis didn't end Steve's ministry, I think it just might have been a new opportunity. Steve continued to work at Hospice and with youth at church. He even returned to Africa to continue working with those who suffer greatly without the luxury of medical interventions. His race had taken a different course but he still endured in a way that was inspiring to the crowds around him.
I didn't know Steve well but as I conveyed to Susan this morning, watching them from a distance--they are awesome. I will never forget his final sermon at our church. Even then the message was more about others than him. For me, this morning was about choosing to run the race that is designed for us and finishing well. It was about trusting God when we can't see the path and don't think we can make it any further.
I pray that I can replicate Steve's endurance and faith in my own race. Sometimes my race seems more like an obstacle course. Too many times I get distracted by the pain and trials of life and loose focus on God's will. We are promised that we will endure hardships in our lives but we will never be alone. How we choose to walk through life, especially the hard times, is a reflection of where our hope is found. We may stumble and fall along the way but are we willing to keep crawling toward the goal?
Most importantly, as I sat there watching and listening this morning I kept thinking--I hope that when my time on earth ends the focus will be like this, not be on me but instead on how God used me in the lives of other people. I hope that people will learn about the children of Dorie's Promise, the families we love in San Antonio Aguas Calientes, the kids we met at Urban Hope in inner city Philadelphia, and many more who will intersect our course.