Maybe you’ve heard of the song “Live Like You Were Dying” that was a big country music hit a few years ago. The premise of the song asked the question…If you knew that you were going to die in a short time, what would you do? The answer was basically this, if I really knew that I was going to die I would “go skydiving, I would climb the Rocky Mountains, I would ride a bull for 2.7 seconds, I would love deeper, speak sweeter, and give forgiveness that I had been denying.” The end of the chorus says, “Someday I hope you get the chance, to live like you were dying.”
The message of the song is if you knew you were dying you would just go for it. Well, I’ve got some news for you today, you are. No matter how young or old we are, we all face the inevitability of time ending on planet earth. When you’re young it seems so far away that you don’t think much about it. But when you get older, like me, it becomes more real that you have a limited amount of time to live.
The most important decision you will ever make is what you do with the story of the cross of Jesus Christ. But when you believe in Him and make Him Lord of your life, the rest of your time on the earth is likened to a race.
Hebrews 12:1 (KJV), “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”
The race that we run is not a 100 yard dash. It’s not a sprint. It is more like an endurance race. That’s why you have to be patient as you run. The race lasts your entire life on earth. You have to pace yourself. There are different phases of the race that you have to adjust to as you progress and get older. It’s also a relay race. There is a passing of the baton that takes place. Every generation has a unique part in the race. The success of how the baton is passed is important if the race is to be won.
Think about how that works in a relay race. In the 4×100 meter relay you have a 20 meter zone that the baton is passed from one runner to the next. If you muff the handoff or go past the lane, the race will be lost. Every age group living is involved in the handoff. There are 3.
On the day of Pentecost Peter preached about it as he explained what happened that day when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the church. He boldly preached this outpouring was for “sons and daughters, young men, and old men.” The sons and daughters are the children. They are in training so that when they grow up they are prepared to take the baton. This is why I’ve preached about the importance of children’s ministry and parenting my entire life. My most important disciples that I’ve influenced for Christ when my race is done will be my children and grand children. Somebody said there is no true success without a successor. Your greatest legacy, for good or bad, is your kids. Be diligent to live a life of faith in front of them until the day that you die.
The next generation is the young men. This is the young generation of leaders that are taking the baton now. They could be the last generation before Jesus returns.
Lastly are the old men. As an older man I’m still running, but I realize I am beginning my handoff. The thing I ask myself constantly is how can I make this handoff smooth? What can I do, as a leader in the body of Christ to help and influence this next generation with what I’ve learned? What is the key to being successful?
Look at the verse that follows Hebrews 12:1-2, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of [our] faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
The most important thing we can do to have the wisdom to pass the baton properly is to keep our eyes on Jesus. This verse promises that if we will do that, the author of our faith will take us to the finish line. If our heart is open to Him he will guide us through every difficulty that the race presents.
Let me share a vision Trudi had a few years ago that speaks to this. She tells the story that one day she was meditating on the verse that says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” In her imagination she saw a huge stadium full of people. There was a big track and she saw runners stretching, getting down in the blocks and practicing taking off, and preparing to run. She knew they were preparing for a big race, like an Olympic event. All of a sudden all the attention of the stadium turned to a tunnel. As she watched someone emerged. She said the people began to say, “The champion is here. Look, it’s the champion!” The crowd went from a murmur to get louder and louder and turned into a roar as they cheered the champion.
The champion was, of course, Jesus Christ. Her attention turned to the runners. When they saw who had entered the stadium they all just threw up their hands and said, “Forget it. I’m not running in this race. Nobody can beat the champion.” Then Jesus walked right up to the runners. On his outstretched arm hung ribbons with gold medals dangling. He told the runners, “Oh, I’m not running in this race. I’ve already run my race. This is your race.” With that, he began taking the medals and putting them around the necks of every runner. The runners were puzzled. They said, “But we haven’t run yet. Why are you giving us gold medals?” Jesus replied, “I crown you as a winner even before you begin because of what I did for you on the cross. I’m going to help every one of you run now because I’m inside you. The only way you’ll lose is if you quit.”
Maybe you find yourself in a rough place in your race right now. The road may seem impassable. Maybe blisters have rubbed you the wrong way so much it just seems impossible. Let me encourage you. Look at Jesus again today. If you know him, you have the DNA of the champion living inside you. He will strengthen you. He will heal you, give you wisdom, and guide you toward you ultimate finish line. I just preached this message in our church here in Oklahoma City and will be sharing it in the churches we travel to.
I want to thank you partners for helping us financially and with your faithful prayers and support. I really believe the finish line is in sight. He’s coming back. Let’s live like we are dying!
Blessings, Ken and Trudi