In 1992, Derek Redmond was running the race of his life — the 400-meter dash at the Summer Olympics. In the previous Olympics, he was forced to withdraw ten minutes before the race due to an Achilles injury, but in the ‘92 Olympics, he was ready and heavily favored to medal. His father was in the stands cheering. The race began and 175 meters into it, he tore his hamstring muscle and collapsed on the ground. As the stretchers rolled out, he refused to get on, and he started hobbling towards the finish line. As he limped in what looked to be excruciating pain, he was unaware that his father had broken through security and had made his way onto the track. When he reached his son, he put his arm around him and helped him cross the finish line. He received a standing ovation from the 65,000 people who were in the stadium that day. Derek Redmond came in last that day in the 400-meter dash but because of his determination and love of his father, he finished well.
This story is heartwarming and moving, and it models perfectly the love of a father. It gives us a glimpse of the way that God loves us. 1 John 3:1 calls us to, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so, we are.”
We live in a world and a culture that is constantly trying to form our identities based on sexuality, gender, race, religion, socioeconomic status, or any other myriad of criteria that claim to attribute worth and value to who we are as humans. But the reality and the truth is that all people and all life have value because of our Creator. We have been made, as Genesis 1:27 tells us, in the image of God. We find our worth and value in something far more lasting and eternal than what society claims has value.
God has loved His creation despite our rejection and rebellion against him. We were created to be in a relationship with Him, or to put it another way, to be in His family. Our sin has broken that family apart. So, to restore the family back together, He sent His son to bring restoration. Through Jesus, His free gift of salvation, we can be made as sons and daughters, adopted into the family of God as full recipients of the inheritance of eternal life.
One song that we sing at our church is called, “Who You Say I Am.” The first verse and chorus of that song say this:
Who am I that the highest King would welcome me?
I was lost, but He brought me in Oh His love for me Oh His love for me.
Who the Son sets free Oh, is free indeed I’m a child of God, yes, I am.
And so, as Christians, we are sons and daughters of God. This is your identity! It is one that should carry more weight than any title or claim the world could offer. It carries with it the promised hope of an eternity spent with our Creator but also the promise that when we stumble in our race of life, the Father will be there to pick us up and strengthen us to continue.
Pastor Ross Jagers