“…let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1
For many years Dr. Jeff Ray served as professor of preaching at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He taught into the 1940s when he was more than eighty years of age. Trouble and tragedy etched their influence on the life of Jeff Ray. Early in his adult life his first wife died, leaving Dr. Ray to serve as mother and father to his children. His sorrow was compounded when one day in the 1930s he received the news that a beloved son had died. This calamity, added to life’s other burdens, threatened to drive the vitality out of Jeff Ray. For a time he quit teaching and preaching in area churches. Dejected and depressed, he was unable to develop interest in anything and was ready to say, “I cannot go on!”
Mrs. L. R. Elliott, wife of the Seminary librarian, sent her husband to visit Dr. Ray with a scrapbook filled with poems and articles which had encouraged her. After Dr. Elliott’s departure the weary professor listlessly leafed through the pages of the scrapbook. A poem with the engaging title of “I Won’t Let Go!” caught his attention.
Realizing that he had been wanting to do just that, Dr. Ray read these words:
I want to let go, but I won’t let go.
There are battles to fight, By day and by night,
For God and the right—And I’ll never let go.
I want to let go, but I won’t let go. I’m sick, ‘tis true, worried and blue,
And worn through and through, but I won’t let go.
I want to let go, but I won’t let go. I will never yield!
What! lie down on the field and surrender my shield?
No, I’ll never let go! I want to let go, but I won’t let go.
May this be my song “Mid legions of wrong— Oh, God, keep me strong
That I may never let go!” —Author Unknown
After reading the poem, Dr. Ray closed the scrapbook, arose from his couch of grief and defeat, and put behind him any thought of giving up and quitting. He returned to the classroom to teach and to pulpits to preach. For many years he distributed copies of the poem to his students. Many of them found encouragement from Dr. Ray’s testimony and from the poem so that they did not let go. The writer of Hebrews found the same encouragement from following the example of Christ and his faithful servants mentioned in Hebrews 11.
God has a plan for my life, and God has a plan for your life. Do you know God’s plan for your life? I don’t care whether you’re nine or ninety, man or woman, rich or poor, God has a plan for your life! God has a race He wants you to run! And the Bible says you’re to run the race that is set before you.
Have you ever taken time to get alone with God and make your life a sheet of blank paper, sign your name at the bottom, and say, “God, You fill it in. Whatever Your will is, I’ll do it”? The will of God—nothing more, nothing less, nothing else, nothing but!