There was, as it so happens, a runner who was destined for absolute stardom. His trainer and coach believed in his ability to achieve the best record in long distance running. The runner was accomplished in every major race within his country, but was now to compete in a world title.
His coach knew that his runner had a penchant for looking at the other runners in an effort to judge his strength, and his pace. However, his coach would demand that he must keep his eyes straight ahead, and keep the rhythm that he was taught in practice. Only when he was passing his coach in a lap would it be appropriate for him to look to the side and read the signal of his coach; whether to quicken the pace, or to slow his pace.
The idea involved more than simple teamwork. It involved reliance on the authority behind his talent, namely his coach and trainer.
On the day of the big race a few runners began to banter with one another and posture with mental strategies in an effort to confuse and dampen their opponents. One such tale predicted that the only way to keep a good pace was to stay behind the top runner, who would be wearing reddish numbers on the back of his shirt.
When the race began, the pressure on the runner was immense. Competing for so long, and with the final master race before him, the pressure to endure was excruciating, and his mind began to wander and he missed several signals from his coach every few laps. After a while, he wasn’t sure who the leader was, because twice he had already passed by some of the runners. He became so disturbed that he forgot to eye his coach altogether, figuring he needed to correct his mistakes by himself.
Then he remembered the advice about the red numbers and sure enough there it was right in front of him. He followed the red shirt rather than his coach’s instructions, and found the pace to be easy for a while, until he realized he had lost the race by minutes rather than seconds. When he came in as one of the last runners rather than in the top ten, he was asked why he was following one of the lowest ranked runners. It was then that he realized the advice he had heard was not accurate, and may have been a ruse the entire time.
His coach received him well, but they both knew that his chance to be renowned was over. He was too old to start the running circuit all over again, and he would have to be content with memories of competing, but never winning the crown title.
“Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world, to test those who live on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” Rev. 3:10, 11.