By DANIEL MCCABE—
“I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14
A rascally rabbit taunted a turtle. You’ve probably heard the story. Mocked for his slow speed the turtle in turn challenged the bunny and all his braggadocio to a race. After recruiting a wise fox to set out the rules and the distance of the race, they’re off. The rabbit takes the lead and quickly leaves the pokey turtle in a tornado of dust. Confident of victory the rabbit stops for a nap, and the turtle passes him and plods his way across the finish line first. The rabbit, roused from his nap and remembering the race, rushes to the line only to hear the fox declare to the rabbit’s shame, “Slow and steady wins the race.”
I prefer the theology of the Bible, but sometimes the theology of t-shirts gets it right. Have you seen the one I saw which reads, “Life is a marathon—not a sprint”? One of Jesus’ twelve disciples, Judas Thaddaeus, the steady disciple, could have worn that t-shirt with pride. Judas Thaddaeus served with Jesus faithfully for three years and made it to the line in his very first marathon. Another disciple named Judas—Judas Iscariot—sprinted quickly out of the gate, but broke down before reaching the finish. Judas Iscariot turned traitor. But Judas Thaddaeus finished strong; he didn’t let down his team and go for the quick money.
Judas Thaddaeus shows up in only one story in the Bible, and it’s on the eve of Jesus’ death—at a meal that Jesus shared with his disciples that last night together. Judas Iscariot would walk away from the group that night, leaving to complete his deeds of treachery. But Judas Thaddaeus, although exhausted from the strain of ridicule and uncertainty that came with his position, stayed in the race of faith, longing for the joy that only perseverance can bring.
Jesus talks to the disciples about their future, explaining that he would be leaving them for a time. John 14:22-23 records the moment, “Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.’” “Keep my word while I’m gone,” Jesus said. “Stay in the race. Keep plodding.”
The joy of God’s presence keeps us moving forward towards the mark. Some of you are just about to walk away from God. You’re hanging out with a rabbit crowd, and the pressures of life are starting to play with your mind. You’ve been faithful for a long time, but others have walked away and it’s hard to stay strong on your own.
Look to the turtle. “Slow and steady wins the race.”
Further Reading: John 14:1-14
Dr. Daniel McCabe is the pastor of Faith Bible Church in Spring, Texas. He is a contributing editor for The Jerusalem Connection Report. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.