The man was aged through the years and the miles yet had joy. Life had not been easy for this first generation Christian. He had seen his tribe relocated out of China to the Hidden Valley. His life has past the autumn and had moved into the early days of winter. But, the Light of Jesus shined through his glossed over eyes from cataracts and his smile missing all but a few teeth. Joel wore the life of a man who had ran the race and only had a few miles left to the finish-line but he was finishing well.
Today, I taught lessons not from experience of miles traveled with Christ but like that I feel like a novice. I spoke of humility of where one thinks of herself with sober judgment (Romans 12:3) and consider others better than yourselves (Philippians 2:3). I spoke of embracing the vision that God gives us for our lives to make disciples of all nations and fulfill our part where we are (Matthew 28:18-20). Finally, I shared about facing opposition within the church family (which I have had some experience) and facing oppression from outside the church family (which I have almost none). I seemed more like a consultant with 15 lessons and an airplane ticket to escape the reality of those who are running their race with endurance in the middle of trying days.
WhenI looked at this man and the elderly women of the Lisu tribe who embraced Christ and faced the struggles and cost of following our Lord, I knew I was sitting in the presence of champions who ran the race that was set before them because they fixed they eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-4). Soon they will receive the goal of their faith, the salvation of their souls (1 Peter 1:9). May I learn to run with such grace and endurance.