Finishing the Race

Inspiration MinistriesBy Inspiration Ministries2 Minutes

Today, Christopher Columbus is celebrated as the bold adventurer who “discovered” the New World (on this day in 1492). But there is much more to his story.

As a young man, Columbus believed God had selected him for a special assignment. He believed that a final battle of history was at hand and that Spain was the hope of Christianity in its conflicts with Islam. These convictions helped spark his desire to reach the Orient by sailing west. But his triumphant discoveries of the New World led to greater glories, both for himself and for Spain.

Columbus returned a second time in 1493. But his third voyage (in 1498) ended in disaster. Colonists in Hispaniola revolted against his leadership. He was arrested and returned to Spain in chains.

He convinced the authorities to let him sail again, but his fourth voyage (which departed on May 11, 1502) also was filled with bad weather and massive problems. He explored the region of modern Panama, believing that this would lead to great treasures. But his quest proved futile.

During this fourth voyage, many of his crew died. Others rebelled. Facing ongoing conflicts, he was arrested by the governor of Hispaniola and spent seven months in prison. He finally was allowed to return to Spain empty-handed. His health deteriorating, he died a little more than a year later. He was so out of favor that his name was banned by Spain’s King Ferdinand. He was quickly forgotten.

This story reminds us how quickly heroes can be forgotten. Fortunes easily can be lost, and reputations can be tarnished.

The Bible reminds us to stay alert and on guard, faithful and vigilant to the very end. We are to “hold fast our confidence” (Hebrews 3:6) and “hold firmly to the word of life” (Philippians 2:16). We must “press on…to reach the end of the race” (Philippians 3:14 NLT).