In my opinion, the greatest race horse of all times was Secretariat, and I do not believe there will ever be another like him. I was twenty six years old at the time he won the Triple Crown in 1973. I saw all three races, on television, and still get goose bumps when I think of what God put in the body of one horse. The Kentucky Derby was thrilling, as was the Preakness, but after the Belmont, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor and pinch myself. If ever a horse sprouted wings and flew, it had to be Secretariat.
I hate to throw another song out here, but this incident reminds me of a song I wrote four years ago called, “Wings Like Eagles.” The words are as follows:
Worries drag most people down
Their face but one sad frown
God strengthens us when we’re on our knees
In faith it’s Him we please
Some confused some have the blues
In the Bible there is good news
For those who put their trust in Him
He’ll not leave out on a limb
Many are weak and helpless too
Just sit around and stew
Depend on Him and He’ll give you wings
And all will hear you sing
Mount up with wings like eagles on high
Soar from a cliff and float through the sky
All the trials of earth leave under your feet
Start from your knees for Satan’s defeat
I’ll get back to the song, and tie this all together in a minute.
The Preakness is the shortest of the three races in the Triple Crown, then the Kentucky Derby, and lastly the Belmont. Secretariat should not have won theBelmont under normal circumstances because he was a sprinter, not a long distance runner (at least so it seemed at first).
I’m quite familiar with this from being on the track team in high school (no star by the way). I was a sprinter. I loved the 100 yard dash and could do well also in the 220 yard dash, but anything beyond that, well forget it. It just wasn’t going to happen. There was no coal left to put in the engine. My get up and go was gone. For long distance running, I would just be a heap of sweat lying somewhere on the track, trying to breathe. By the way, I’m not talking perspiration. I’m talking sweat. So I understand the concept that you may have speed for short distances, but it is very unlikely you will last the long distance runs. The same is true for long-distance runners. They just don’t have the speed for a short race, or sprint, but they can run you in the ground in a long race.
So how did Secretariat, a sprinter, manage to so soundly defeat the long distance runners on their own field? Remember, he obliterated Sham, the closet horse to him, by 31 lengths, and it would have been even greater, since he was still accelerating, if the race had not ended at that point. That was the only reason it wasn’t even worse than what it was, and Sham was a great horse.
Secretariat not only had the perfect race horse body, but God also gave him a heart twice the size of other horses to withstand punishing distances. There is much more that can be said about this great horse, but that is enough for where I want to go with this article.
Now what does all this have to do with Wings Like Eagles, other than the fact Secretariat seemed to have those wings? Well, it is understood that this horse loved to run, and also, he loved to eat. We should love to run for Jesus. We should love to eat His Word (He called it His flesh). Keep this in mind, to run the race on an empty stomach is to be too weak to win. By the same token, we need to eat, but allow time for it to digest before running. Once it has digested, we will be ready, because we will be strengthened.
In our spiritual race, we are commanded to nourish our spirits with the Word of God, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) Our strength for the race can only be found at the table of Jesus. “My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word.” (Psalms 119:28)
Some of us love to run. Others just don’t have it in them. They’re like the song above (Wings Like Eagles) in the verses. They allow everything around them to beat them down, but in the chorus they can find that Jesus can not only make them run, but also give them the endurance to mount up with wings like eagles, to go the long race.
Whether it’s a horse or a human, each runs to win. With us, in our walk with the Lord we run to get the prize. What is the prize? The prize is hearing Jesus say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21) When we are faithful to Him, He will be faithful to us by putting us in charge of much more. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV)
The writer of Hebrews says that the crowd of witnesses are in the stands, the race is marked and ready. Now let us think only about the race, keep our eyes on Jesus, and run to win for Him. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV) The word “perseverance” in these verses implies a determination to go all the way. Jesus gives us the ability, the big heart, to do so.
Paul said in his final days, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8 NIV) Can that be said of us? Have we fought the good fight? Have we finished the race? Have we kept the faith? Do we long for His appearing? If so, He will reward his own (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).
If worries, confusion and weaknesses, etc. are dragging you down, renew your strength, and you will run tirelessly, soaring on wings like eagles, as Secretariat did on June 18, 1973. “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:30-31 NIV) As the stamina of this great horse increased with each stride, so will ours when we place our hope in Jesus Christ. We will run the race of life and not grow weary, because Jesus is our strength.
Some Christians move like sloths, and others (like Paul) take on the wind with wings that God provides. Which describes you? Would you rather move like a sloth or a cheetah (the slowest and the fastest land animals)? Yes, I know, I switched animals. The animal isn’t important. It’s the race that counts. How is your race going?