It’s got to be one of the most unique sporting events in the entire world. It’s called the Iditarod, the ultimate sled dog race. Every year, dozens of teams line up for the historic 1,000-mile race from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. However, it didn’t start out as a sporting competition. It began in 1925 when the stakes were much higher than a cash prize. It was the lives of countless children in Nome who had been exposed to the dreaded disease diphtheria.
The only serum in Alaska to fight the disease was in faraway Anchorage. It had to get to Nome in the shortest time possible, and it was carried in an amazing relay by one sled dog team after another. In all, it took twenty drivers, some of whom braved mountain ranges, brutal weather, and a merciless gale. But on February 2, only 127 hours after the first team left, the last driver arrived in Nome with his tired dog team and 300,000 units of the life-saving serum.
Originally, that’s what the Iditarod was. What was once a life-saving mission has now become just an activity. They’re still racing on the same course, but they are not racing to save lives anymore, just like many followers of Jesus… like many of our churches… like many of our ministries. Oh, we’re racing sure enough, but not to save lives. There’s a lot of activity and excitement, but it’s not about rescuing people who will die if we don’t get to them.
Beloved, may I remind you that’s what we are supposed to be about. The Lord’s marching orders to His Church are, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). The apostle Paul said, “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (I Corinthians 9:22b). Of course, Paul did not mean by that that he could save anybody — only Christ can do that. But he was speaking of delivering the life-saving message of the Gospel. That’s why God has placed you where you are… where you live, where you work, where you go to school. He’s put you there to get the “life-saving serum” of the Gospel of Christ to them!
Maybe you’re busy in the Christian race, but you’ve forgotten the life-saving purpose of the race. God is calling you to see the desperate need of dying people within your reach and to see that He has positioned you to be the one to reach them. And it is a race, because every day they live without Christ, they move one step closer to an eternity without Him. But you’re there. And you have the serum. You have nothing more important to do with the rest of your life than to deliver life to those who will die if you don’t.