For me, one of the most memorable Olympic moments was in the Summer Games of 1992 in Barcelona. Derek Redmond was a British sprinter who had barely missed the qualification four years prior. He was thrilled to run in this year’s (1992) Olympic Games, but he pulled a hamstring in the middle of a 400m race.
The pain and agony on his face were obvious. Everyone would have understood if he had allowed the medical staff to carry him off the track. Instead, though, he failed to quit. He was determined to finish the race, but in his weakness, he was struggling. His father then stepped in to make sure he completed the mission.
I wish we all had people with us like Derek’s dad. We all will have falls and trials, and we sure hope there is always someone there to lean on through the finish. However, the reality is that at times, we don’t have that encouragement. There are times when we are surrounded by discouragement and people telling us why we shouldn’t continue.
This was true of Paul in his commitment to travel to Jerusalem and then to Rome. When we read in Acts 21 of Paul’s travels to Jerusalem, we read of friends and fellow believers who try to detain him from continuing. They knew that his course would result in pain, and out of love, they tried to persuade him to alter his course.
Paul would not be swayed. He knew that the Spirit had given him clear instructions, and no matter the consequence, he was resolved to obey. Fully prepared to die, Paul would continue his plan to go to Jerusalem and ultimately to Rome.
While every person has an individual story, God has called all believers to make disciples. We must never allow any distraction to prevent us from completing that mission. No matter the consequences, we must boldly and courageously proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation.
For many, God has given even more clear and specific instructions. For me, it is to preach the Gospel. There is no other alternative. I must preach and lead Jesus’ church. What is it for you? What has God called and commissioned you to do? Whatever the answer, be determined and focused to carry out the mission even in the face of discouragement.