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)
The idea of a finisher's medal never really appealed to me until I found myself taking my last steps across a finish line, 12k from where I started 92 minutes and 41 seconds previously. Though I finished in the top 1/3 of females that day (7490 of 24,139), I hardly deserved an award for performance. True, my finishing time was about ten minutes faster than I had ever trained at home - thank you race day adrenaline - but it was hardly something I would brag about.
If on race day, they were only handing out awards for those who deserve it, very few would have received one; and if God's handing out awards for those who deserve it, none would receive it. You see, essentially, none of us are able to run the exact race we were intended to. We've fallen and failed along the way, but the joy is in getting back up and pushing on. God is a righteous Judge and sees our heart and our efforts.
So, maybe a finisher's medal is cool to me now, because I have one. Or maybe it's because I know I am still in the middle of a race, one that will eventually award me an even cooler finisher's medal, the crown of righteousness.