The year was 1992. The place was Barcelona, Spain. You see, it was the Summer Olympics. The U.S. Track & Field coaches put together a real doozy of a team. Guys like Michael Johnson and Quincy Watts, fast as blazes, joined the team. These were some of the fastest individuals in the world. Do you know what happens when you take the fastest individuals in the world and put them on the same relay-race team? Lightening. Watch this.
Four men running with the same purpose – to cross that line before anyone else while still holding the baton, running faster than 20 miles per hour! But if you take any one of them out of the race and the team is no good. You need someone to pass the baton and you need someone to receive the baton. Only then can the team move towards to goal – winning the race.
There was a spiritual man a long time ago who needed to learn this lesson. His name was Elijah. Elijah loved God and always stood up for God, even when most of the people around him seemed to be going a different direction. It’s hard to go against the crowd. Our human nature tends to conform to the world around us. That is one reason it is so important to surround ourselves with good people that will build us up. Good people tend to make us better. Bad people tend to drag us down. But Elijah stood up for God even when others turned against him. But the opposition got so bad at one point that Elijah had to high-tail it out of there – he literally ran for his life and holes up in a cave.
9 There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”
Like Elijah, sometimes we feel like we’re running alone. Can’t you just hear Elijah? “God, this is supposed to be a relay and there are supposed to be other runners with me! I’m the only one left. How am I supposed to run alone? I can run fast for a little bit, but then I get tired and will collapse!” Do you ever feel like you’re running the race alone? That feeling hits us in every area of life. As parents sometimes we feel that way. You’re tired and just cannot run another step. In our jobs sometimes we feel that way. “Why am I the only one pulling my weight around here? There should be other employees to help out!”
In our ministries at church sometimes we feel that way. “God, I’m here to serve you but nobody will do it with me – I’m burned out and fed up!” Has this ever been you? I’ve been there. We feel like we’re running the race alone, and everyone knows that you can’t win a relay race with only one runner. But then God answers.
“There are others who will run with you!”
In fact, God says, “Not only are you NOT alone, there are 7,000 more God-fearing people who are on your side!”
How cool is that?!?
In our human weakness we like to hold on to that suffering servant role. “It’s just me, only me. I’m the only one!” And here comes God who gives us a gentle nudge and says, “Hey, you’re not as alone as you think you are.” God will always have people on His side. Though it may be hard to recognize at times, we never truly run alone. God has people who are ready, willing, and able to run with you.
We need to find people who are willing to help us, people who have already been running the race and are willing to pass the baton to us. This means finding mentors, teachers, and others who can help us on our journey. Proverbs 12:15 tells us:
“A fool’s way is right in his own eyes, but whoever listens to counsel is wise.”
We become wiser and better prepared if we surround ourselves with people who have run the race and can give us good, godly input. Just the other day I ran an idea by someone and said, “I was thinking about this, what do you think?” And he said, “Well, I tried that once and this was the result and what I discovered.” It altered how I thought about things, and I was glad I took the time to hear him out.
Have you been intentional about putting good people in place who can speak into your life? Not just anyone, mind you. Sometimes people ask advice and counsel from the WRONG people. Ladies, why do you seek relationship advice from your girlfriend when she doesn’t know how to have a healthy relationship with a man?
“Girl, this is what you should tell that man…”
“Really? Did it work for you?” Make sure that your counselors are not telling you simply what you want to hear. Good people build us up. Bad people drag us down. Surround yourself with good people who can pour into you.
Have you set up people in your life that can mentor you, train you, and pass the baton to you? No matter what our age we always need good counsel. It is time to drop the bad counsel and the people that drag you down. It is time to surround yourself with people who will build you up and speak God’s truth to you