It was the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. The ladies gymnastics team was in striking distance of the Russian gals and the Americans had only one girl left to overtake their fierce competitors. That girl was Kerri Strug. The last event was the vault, her speciality. But her next to the last jump she fell due to injuring her ankle. However, being a gutsy athlete she could not forgo her final chance. So she sped down the runway towards that vault with the pain coursing through her leg needing to stick this vault and especially the landing or the gold medal would slip through the American team’s fingers. She hit the vault with precision, catapulting her tiny frame skyward and twisting and turning as she flew and landed on one leg, perfectly ! Her performance netted her enough points to win the gold medal ! It was a great moment in Olympic history and if you saw it then, her courage and skill under intense pain and pressure brought tears of joy and admiration to your eyes, not just as an American but a fellow human being.
The “He” area of Ps.119 takes up the matter of finishing well, “Teach me, O Lord, the way of Thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.” (vs.33). None of us really needs instruction in the “basic art of sinning”. That comes very natural. What we do need is the skill, understanding, and like Kerri, the courage to do whats right even when there is pressure and pain to do otherwise. The next verse cries out for understanding. A marathon runner will take pains to learn what is needed to finish well and that insight gained can be the difference in that grueling race. In our race, called life we must learn what God is like and how His ways are or we will blow out and wilt in adversity.
But the learning is only as good as what we apply so the passage continues to say, “Make me to go in the path of Thy commandments; for therein do I delight.” (vs.35). Many Christians in the Corinthian church had learned much but had become “puffed up” because, though learning great truths about God and His Word, they weren’t acting on them. So we see four prayer requests in vss.35-37 where the writer seeks God’s help in activating what he’s learned so he will finish well: “Make me to go in Thy paths”, “Incline my heart”, “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity”, & “quicken Thou me in Thy way.” In short, God help me do what your Word says because I want to win in this grueling thing called life ! And make no mistake about his request in v.35. He isn’t asking God to force him to do what’s right, but to do right because he truly wants to. That word “make” has the idea of worship in it, so he is willingly submissive when he asks God for this because he was freely and fondly worshipping His Lord. You will always finish well when you truly love the Lord and His Word.
Kerri was not willing to let down her God, her country, her teammates, her family, even herself. So she ran, she jumped, and she stuck that landing as she had many times before but this time with excruciating pain yet the end result was lasting joy and triumph for finishing well. So, today, whatever God has for you to perform, go stick your landing for the Lord !!