The Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, Georgia is the largest 10K race in the world. Thousands of people participate. This year’s 46th running of the Peachtree Road Race produced an interesting conclusion. Two runners were out in front of the field towards the end of the race. One was American Ben Payne. The other was British competitor Scott Overall.
Ben Payne is in the Air Force and stationed in Colorado Springs. He was the leader coming down the home stretch. But Ben made a strategic error. A few steps from the finish line he put up his index finger indicating that he was cruising to victory. What he didn’t realize was that Overall was sprinting to the finish and quickly gaining on Payne. He passed Payne right at the finish line.
Now the finish was so close that nobody knew who had won. It took a couple of hours to determine that Overall had won by 9/100ths of a second.
The U.S. lost a 10K to the British on July 4th, 2015. We had the victory won – but Ben celebrated a little early. He failed to finish. I am glad that 239 years ago America did not just start a race. We enjoy our freedoms today because our forefathers finished the race!
I am glad the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence didn’t put together a document on which they could negotiate and potentially back out. They signed a document that they knew would cost them dearly, but it would represent the very foundation on which this nation was built. They faced extreme opposition within this country because no one thought that the states could gain independence. But we had leaders who were willing to put their lives on the line and finish!
Our early forefathers put together our first flag. It was the symbol of what this nation stood for. It has been subsequently modified 26 times. In 1958 President Eisenhower commissioned a contest to modify the flag to include the 50th state. Interestingly, a 17-year-old high school student, Robert Heft, decided to participate and made it his class project. His design of the American flag was accepted, which we display today. Interestingly, he made a B- on the project. Today we need to make an A+ on finishing the task for the principles on which this nation was built!
A lot of people have gone to battle under that flag. Over a million Americans have died. They were willing to finish the course!
I had an opportunity to go to Parris Island for a few days and view firsthand what our Marine recruits go through. It is a huge challenge. They take boys and girls and make men and women out of them. But they have to finish the test before they move forward as Marines.
At Parris Island there is that huge statue of the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima in 1945. 250 marines went up the ridge, and only 27 came back down – but they finished the task. Many of them were just young boys. They didn’t quit when the going got tough. One was interviewed and asked how it happened and he said, “We were knocked off the ridge six times, but we came back seven times.” They finished!
More important than a 10K road race is the race for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness today. The Brit runner beat the American runner in Atlanta on July 4th, 2015. The Americans beat the Brits on July 4th, 1776. Will we finish victoriously? Read 2 Timothy 4:7.
How will you finish?