I read this during devotions and found it very inspiring. I love the way he makes it so interesting to read and the lessons we can learn from it! Hope you enjoy it!
Running with the Giants
By John C. Maxwell
I turned 60 last year and I’ve found that when you become 60, you become a philosopher about life. What I thought I would do in beginning this message, today, is I would read something to you that would explain life because we all have questions about life. And here’s the great news – on this laminated card I’m holding, everything you ever wanted to know about life is right here. When anything’s important, I laminate it. I think it sets it apart, makes it holy. If I had been Moses, going up Mt. Sinai, I would have laminated the Ten Commandments. I certainly wouldn’t have put them on stone; those will break.
If you want to know about life, here it is on this card. This is what it says:
On the first day, God created the dog. God said, “Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes by and I’ll give you a lifespan of 20 years.” The dog said, “That’s too long to be barking. Give me ten years and I’ll give you the other ten back,” and God agreed.
On the second day, God created the monkey, and God said, “Entertain people, do monkey tricks, make them laugh. I’ll give you a 20-year lifespan.” The monkey said, “How boring. Monkey tricks for 20 years? I don’t think so. The dog gave you back ten, so that’s what I’ll do, too, okay?” And God agreed.
On the third day, God created the cow. God said, “You must go out in the field with the farmer all day long, suffer under the sun, have calves, give milk to support the farmer. I’m going to give you a lifespan of 60 years.” The cow said, “That’s kind of a tough life you want me to live for 60 years. Let me have 20 and I’ll give you back the other 40.” And God agreed.
On the fourth day, God created man. God said, “Eat, sleep, play, marry, enjoy your life. I’ll give you 20 years.” Man said, “What? Only 20 years? I’ll tell you what, I’ll take my 20, add the 40 the cow gave you back, the ten the monkey gave you back, and the ten the dog gave you back. That makes 80, okay?” “Okay,” God said. “You’ve got a deal.”
So, that is why the first 20 years of our lives we eat, sleep, play, and enjoy ourselves. For the next 40 years, we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next 10 years, we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. For the last 10 years, we sit on the front porch and bark at everybody that goes by. You have just had life explained to you.
In Hebrews, chapter 11, the writer talks about all the men and women of great faith. It’s known as the faith chapter. It’s very inspirational to read. The very first part gets our attention because it describes these men and women of faith, now in the stands watching us run our race in life. All these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans are now cheering us on. It means that we had better get on with it. Strip down, start running, and never quit – no extra spiritual fat, no parasite sins.
Keep your eyes on Jesus who both began and finished this race that we’re running. Study how he did it because he never lost sight of where he was headed – his exhilarating finish in and with God. He could put up with anything along the way: the cross, the shame, whatever. And now he’s there at the place of honor right alongside of God. Listen to this: When you see yourself flagging in your faith, go over his story again and again, item by item, including the long litany of hostility that he plowed through. and this will shoot adrenaline into your soul. In other words, keep your eyes on Christ who ran this race before you and me, but also keep your eyes on the crowd, these veterans of faith that are cheering you and me on.
A few years ago, I was in this passage of scripture, Hebrews 11, and all of a sudden it hit me that these great men and women of faith are in the stands and they’re watching you and me run this amazing race. And they’re pulling for us. They’re cheering us on. They’re saying, “God helped us to get through this race successfully; he will help you, also.”
Now, whenever you go to any sporting event where there’s a large crowd, the fans may be cheering for their team but one voice gets muffled in the crowd of thousands. I began to ask myself the question: What would happen if these men and women of faith could step out of the crowd and what would happen if they could run one lap with us and they could only say one thing to us? How could we learn from them something that would encourage us as we run this race?
In my book, Running with the Giants, I bring out of the crowd ten characters. I would like to bring out two this morning for your encouragement.
If Rebecca could step out of the crowd and could run one lap with you or me, I know what she would say. She would encourage us to serve others with a generous spirit. Because when you look at the life of Rebecca, it was one of giving and serving with no strings attached.
You may know the story. Abraham, a very wealthy man who wanted a bride for his son Isaac, sent his most trusted servant back to his homeland to find a bride for Isaac. When my children were teenagers, I thought we ought to get back to that Old Testament custom of parents picking out the spouses for their children.
So the trusted servant, on the way back to his homeland, was very nervous because this was a most important assignment. He began to pray, “God, you’re going to have to help me. Who would this bride be? God, when I come into the town, may she offer me a drink of water.” That was not a big prayer because that was a customary act that they did that in that day. Then he asked, “May she also offer water to my camels?” Now, when he asked God that the future bride of Isaac would offer water to the camels, this was a huge prayer because he had ten camels and each one could drink 20 gallons of water after a day’s journey. So, basically, he was saying, “May the bride of Isaac, the one who is going to become a part of the family, may she look at all of my camels and offer them water also – two hundred gallons of water.”
When Rebecca came up to him and offered him something to drink, he said to himself, “So far so good.” Then she looked at his camels and said, “May I draw water for your camels, also?” Now get the picture: two hundred gallons brought from the well using a five-gallon bucket. That means 40 trips from the well, over to the watering trough, and back to the well, then to the watering trough again. This would take her at least three hours.
As she’s going from the well to the watering trough, the Bible says that the servant of Abraham just watched her. He didn’t say a word. Now, to be honest with you, I would have encouraged her. I would have said, “Oh Rebecca, you’re doing a good job. You can do this!” I think Dr. Schuller would have encouraged her wonderful possibility thinking, don’t you? But the trusted servant never said a word to her.
This is what ‘s beautiful about her being able to serve with such a generous spirit. She had no idea that, by this act, she would be brought into a wealthy family. She had no idea that the servant had jewels for her and all kinds of wonderful things. She had no idea about any of these things. With a generous spirit, she was simply serving a stranger. That’s kind of wonderful, is it not?
In our culture and in our day, when people say, “I don’t do windows,” aren’t you glad Noah didn’t say, “I don’t do boats”? Aren’t you glad Moses didn’t say, “I don’t do rivers”? Aren’t you glad David didn’t say, “I don’t do giants”? Aren’t you glad John the Baptist didn’t say, “I don’t do baptisms”? And young Mary, when the angel came to her, aren’t you glad Mary didn’t say, “Excuse me, I don’t do virgin births.” Aren’t you glad that Peter didn’t say, “I don’t do Gentiles”? Aren’t you glad Paul didn’t say, “I don’t do letters”? Aren’t you glad Jesus didn’t say, “I don’t do crosses”?
Rebecca, as she runs her lap with us, would encourage us to serve others with a generous spirit.
If you would allow me to bring one more character out of the stands to run one lap with you and me, I would like to bring David out just for a moment. Because, if David could say one thing to you or me as he ran that one lap, I know what he would say because I’ve studied his life. He would say, “You can overcome the limitations that others place on you.” He would say this because, as a very young man, he had people place limitations on him constantly.
You may remember when the prophet Samuel called Jesse, the father of David, and said, “Jesse, I’m going to come over to your house tomorrow. One of your boys is going to be the next king.”
Can you imagine how Jesse felt knowing that one of his sons would be the next king of Israel? He hung up the phone and – this is the Maxwell translation – he said to his wife, “Honey, Sam called. He’s coming over tomorrow. One of our boys is going to be the next king!” And I know just what they did as parents – they did the same thing you or I would do as parents. They sat down at the table, they got out their legal pad, they listed all their boys, and they played the “Which Son Will it Be?” game for the next few hours.
I think Jesse’s wife said, “It’ll be the oldest son. It has to be. You know in our culture, the oldest son gets about everything.”
Then I think they talked a little longer and Jesse said, “No, no, I think its going to be that fourth son down.”
“Why do you think it’ll be the fourth son?”
“Think about it. Ever since he was born, he’s walked around the house like he is the king and tells us what to do.”
Here’s what I know: The next day when Samuel came to the house, all the boys were in suits. They were lined up across the living room and Samuel went down and viewed each one of them. Then, with a look of puzzlement on his face, he said, “Jesse, are there not any more sons? None of these boys will be the king.”
It was at that moment that Jesse, father of David, realized that of all of his sons, one did not have king-potential. Quickly, they went and got David and brought him out of the field.
How would you have liked to be David that day, realizing that your parents thought that all the other brothers had a greater future than you did? That’s why David would say, “Don’t let others put limitations on you.”
It didn’t stop there with just his father. You may remember that when they were doing battle against Goliath, Jesse sent David down to bring food supplies to his older brothers and to see how the war was going. So, down he came. But the brothers were disgusted when David showed up and said he shouldn’t have come. “We have a big man on the other side and he’s intimidating us. Go home to dad. You don’t belong here. You’re not a soldier.”
However, David stayed around long enough to hear that whoever took on the big boy could marry the king’s daughter. He thought to himself, “Now, that is not a bad thing.” Then he found out that if you took on the big boy, you could live tax-free in the land. He said, “Now, that is even greater. I’ll take on Goliath.”
They brought David to the tent of King Saul and they said, “King, we have good news and bad news. The good news is we have somebody to take on the big boy. The bad news is that it’s David.”
Saul, the King of Israel, was six foot five and weighed 245. David was five foot five and weighed 145. Saul saw him, he was alarmed, and said, “Oh my goodness, this is not going to be any good. If you’re going to do this, at least put on my armor.” Can you imagine little David in big Saul’s armor? He just staggered around. He couldn’t even find Goliath.
Somebody asked me one time, “Why do you think that Saul wanted to give David his armor?” I said the only reason I can think of is that he would do it because he wasn’t going to use it.
Even as David charged up the hill, Goliath was disgusted. You get the picture? His father didn’t believe he had king-potential, his brothers didn’t think he had warrior-potential, the king of the country thought this is not a good thing, and Goliath himself was disgusted. You see, if David could run one lap with you today, he would say, “Don’t let other people put limitations on you.” Or as God’s word says, “If God be for you, who can be against you?” Or the Maxwell translation that says, “If God be for us, everyone else might as well be.”
I close with this thought: You are running a race and when you feel discouraged, tired, worn out, lonely and confused, just go into Hebrews chapter 11 and read the list of the names of those great men and women of faith and realize that they are personally cheering you on. So be encouraged. We are in this race together.
© Copyright Hour of Power 2008. This message was delivered by John C. Maxwell from the pulpit of the Crystal Cathedral and aired on the Hour of Power, November 23, 2008.