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Eyes on the Prize
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On March 6, 1987 while running in a qualifying heat at the World Indoor Track Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana, Emil Coghlan was tripped. He fell down, but immediately got back up. The Irish world record holder, with great effort, caught back up with the group. He could have sat on the track. He could have stormed over to a referee and complained. He could have tried to push someone else over. But he didn’t. When he fell down, he quickly jumped back up to his feet and kept running.

Coghlan left a great example for the rest of us. How often do we fall down or make mistakes in our life and just quit. We complain that life isn’t fair. We cry, “If I had better parents…” or “Circumstances were not in my favor.” Emil didn’t sit on the track and complain. He got back up and kept running. In fact, he ran better after his fall.

The apostle Paul encourages us with what to do when we trip and fall. He lived a life of being knocked over as an unpopular missionary to the Gentiles. He wrote, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8, 9 NIV).

Got Back Up

We live in a world of blame, but it gets us nowhere. Pointing the fingers at others will not move us one inch forward. It only leaves us sitting in the dust. Others will charge right past us and finish the race while we sit and stew. That is what made so many of the great women and men in the Bible stand out. It’s not that they never made mistakes—Moses, Rahab, David, Sarah, Samson—but that they got back up after falling down. They lived by faith in God’s grace.

But Emil Coghlan, in the same run, faced another problem. After his fall, he caught up with the group and was in 3rd place. With only 20 yards left in the run, he made a fatal move by looking over his shoulder. At that moment another runner passed Coghlan one yard before the finish line. He lost 3rd place and didn’t qualify for that run.

The Bible gives us another running tip when it comes to our personal salvation. “Therefore … let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:1, 2 NKJV). Keeping our eyes on the prize—Jesus Christ—keeps our focus as runners in the right place. Whether we trip and fall, or are hard pressed on every side, we will win the race when our focus is on the Goal.

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By Curtis Rittenour. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ® and the NEW KING JAMES VERSION © 1982.

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