He Kept Running
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12: 1-3 NASB
Seeing our very dear pastor friend, Rev. John Hocker, forced into retirement by a painful arthritic body was almost unbearable to watch, but far worse for him to endure along with his faithful wife, Donna since the ministry had been their life for years.
Finally, with his health continuing to decline and his wife physically unable to provide the care he required, a retirement home was the answer. Although, this faithful man of God was heart broken, he faithfully maintained his relationship with the Lord. However, because he felt he could be of no service to Him in his condition, he would often pour out his heart in prayer wanting desperately to be able to be of service. God knew his heart and honored his faithful servant who kept right on running in the Spirit, by bringing opportunities of ministry to him. One particular occasion of ministry I remember him telling us was when a staff member came rushing into his room explaining that another resident was very ill and realized he was near death. He was unsure of his salvation and afraid to die. The staff member went on to tell Pastor Hocker how she and others had told him that he had lived a good life and been a good community leader and would go to heaven. Pastor Hocker knew living a good life would not earn anyone an entrance into heaven. This dying man needed to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and have his sins forgiven and his name written in Heaven. With his faith running strong, Pastor Hocker was wheeled down the hall by this staff member and into the room of the dying man. With God's anointing, he immediately explained the plan of salvation to this desperate man. He readily received the message of hope and prayed the sinner's prayer. Pastor Hocker witnessed this man's relief of sins gone and his heart right with God as a smile broke across his face. That dear man was no longer afraid to die. He knew he was going to live with Jesus; two days later he did.
Pastor Hocker never stopped running for the Lord. His painful arthritic body could not stop his spirit. He prayed, he sang songs of praise and consecration and ministered at every opportunity. He departed this life in 2007 running in the Spirit and into the arms of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. What an example of a believer in word and deed. It is not enough to start in this race for the Lord; we must finish strong!
Keep running! for the Lord whoever and wherever you are. Do not grow weary in well doing. The apostle Paul was faithful whether in prison or out of prison. His faith and confidence was always running. Wherever he was, he was not bitter and stagnant, but vibrant and strong and running for the Lord and always doing the Master's business. Iron bars couldn't hold back the Word of the Lord.
He won eternal life because he kept running.