Finishing the race

In a recent podcast/sermon on hungering and thirsting for righteousness, R.C. Sproul used the game of football as a metaphor for life. Football players have a drive, a desire to get to their goal – the endzone. They fight, push, sprint, and plow their way to that goal. J.C. Ryle, in his book Holiness, also discusses this “goal” as a need for sanctification. Relating this striving toward a goal to the Christian life, Dr. Sproul talked about how so often Christians rest on their laurels after coming to saving faith in Christ, content in their relationship with God, and coasting through the rest of life. This isn’t the biblical model presented to us by Christ, Paul, and others. Jesus said that we need to “Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt 6:33). Hungering and thirsting after righteousness – striving to live a holy life – is to be a priority. Not in a legalistic, works-based salvation way, but it should flow from our love and faith in Christ and we should always desire more grace from the Holy Spirit. At the end of our lives we, like Paul, should be able to claim the crown of righteousness because we have “finished the race, kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7). We should yearn for the day when we are greeted at heaven’s gates with the admonishment from the Lord, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt 25:23).

We had a chance to celebrate Papa Maclay’s life this past weekend (Elizabeth’s maternal grandfather). I wish I had a chance to get to know him more, because he was a great man. He earned a PhD from Yale, was a brilliant scientist (he received five patents), a great leader, a humble achiever, and a godly husband, father, and grandfather. But what struck me about him was his heart for the Lord. Even with all his earthly accomplishments and accolades, he counted it all loss for the sake of Christ. His eyes were fixed on his Lord and Savior throughout his life, and he rested not on his own merit or his talents, but only on the righteousness of Christ received through faith (Phi 3:7-9 were some of his favourite verses). He loved the Lord with all his heart, soul, and mind; and together with Mama and by the grace of God raised his family of five children and nine grandchildren in the Lord. He finished the race, he fought the good fight, and now he is wearing the crown of righteousness in glory.

I may have been around Papa Maclay only a handful of times, but he is an example to me of a godly man who lived for Christ, loved his family, knew where his treasure was stored, and hungered after righteousness. Well done, good and faithful servant.


3 thoughts on “Finishing the race

  1. Here is the full obituary for William N. “Papa” Maclay:William N. Maclay, retired physical chemist and Koppers executive, died October 31, 2007 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was 82 years of age. He was born in Belleville, Pennsylvania on December 30, 1924 where he also grew up. A resident of Murrysville, he lived in Monroeville for nearly fifty years.In 1949, Dr. Maclay married Betty Jane Boucher, of Portage, Pennsylvania, whom he met during his college years.Maclay was a Magna cum Laude graduate of Juniata College in 1947. He received the PhD degree from Yale University in 1950. His doctoral thesis with Prof. Raymond M. Fuoss dealt with the physical chemistry of polyelectrolytes and was one of the early publications in that field. His graduate studies were supported by a full fellowship funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research.Dr. Maclay enjoyed brief teaching stints at Juniata and Davis and Elkins Colleges prior to joining the B.F. Goodrich Co. in Brecksville, Ohio in 1951 as a research scientist. He was best known there for his studies in surface and colloid chemistry. Sandwiched within his time at Juniata, where he carried a triple major, were two years of service in the U.S. Navy as an electronics technician. He served his country in the U.S., Hawaii, and Saipan. For 25 years he pursued an avocation in amateur radio. Later, he took up golf, sailing and playing keyboards.Dr. Maclay joined the Koppers Co. Research Department in 1959 as a Group Leader in latex technology. Over the next 8 years, he held several positions within Koppers, including Manager of Commercial Development, until he became Vice President and Director of Research, a position he held for 17 years prior to his retirement in 1985.Dr. Maclay was a member of Beulah Presbyterian Church for [number] years, where he served as both Deacon and Elder. His professional society memberships included American Chemical Society, Industrial Research Institute, American Institute of Chemists, Society of the Sigma Xi, New York Academy of Sciences and the Pittsburgh Chemists Club. He authored 15 scientific publications and held 5 U.S. patents. He served on the Board of Directors of the Industrial Health Foundation, Genex Corporation, Ceramatec, Inc., Advanced Refractories Technologies, Inc, and Kopvenco, Inc. He also served on the Chemistry Department Advisory Boards for Carnegie-Mellon and Ohio State Universities. He was, for 18 years, a member of the Duquesne Club.For many years he was active in alumni affairs at Juniata College, where he was awarded the Alumni Service Award in 1979. He served as chairman of the President’s Development Council and as a member of the College Board of Trustees.In addition to his wife, Dr. Maclay is survived by three brothers, Robert B. Jr., of Belleville, Pennsylvania, Harry E. and his wife Charlotte of New Holland, Pennsylvania, and Donald M. and his wife Nancy of Springfield, Pennsylvania. He is also survived by his children: Gary and his wife Sandra, of Phoenix, Arizona; Dennis of Grove City, Pennsylvania, Rebekah Steele and her husband David, of New Castle, Pennsylvania, Bonnie Schaefer and her husband Paul, of Grove City, Pennsylvania, and Dr Beth Doriani and her husband Christopher of Virginia Beach, VA. He is also survived by nine grandchildren.

  2. I would suggest you take a look at sentence arrangement in thre first paragraph. When you place the ‘J.C. Ryle…’ sentence immediately before the ‘This is not the biblical…’ sentence, it appears as if you are stating that RC Sproal and JC Ryle are not presenting biblical perspectives on the pursuit of holiness. Judging the paragraph as a whole, I don’t think that is your intent.


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