- Let me start by saying that I am not a runner, nor do I have any desire to be a runner. I can only image what is to be a runner and how I might feel if I ran.
I start the marathon with such exuberance, I feel rested, I feel strong, I feel good. I am ready to conquer the course.
“Racers ready, Set” the pistol goes off, “Go”.
I am off I start at a good steady pace. Hearing the pounding of the other runners feet hit the ground gives me power and a rhythm to which I can set my pace. One mile, two miles, five miles, ten miles. I begin to feel the muscles in my body warm, my breathing is a little harder. I hear less of the rhythm of running feet. As I run the course what I was counting on to help me has begun to fade, my exuberance is waning, the other runners have scattered, some in front, some behind, a few within ear shot. I feel my steps slowing. Surely I have run more than half the course, but as I approach a mile marker, no, I approach a mile marker to see that have only made it 13 miles. I am exhausted, how am I going to finish the other half of the race? Where I am going to pull the strength from? Which runner will offer me encouragement, which runner will hang back with me to help me regain rhythm and endurance?
I know its not fair of me to ask that of anyone. Then from behind me I hear steps fall into pace with mine. Slap, slap, slap of our feet as we meet the ground. For awhile no words are spoken and I can only focus on the melody of our running. I finally look at her and smile weakly, she returns the smile, bright and friendly. We run further with no words. I find comfort in her presence.
Finally, she speaks, labored speech, heavy breathing, but she manages to say, “You can do this! Just keep your eyes on the finish line.”
We ran a little further. We pass mile marker 17. She smiles again and says, “Nine more to go.”
Slowly her pace picks up and as she runs still in rhythm with me, but with longer strides. No longer is she beside me but in front and slowly increasing the gap between us. How easy was mile 14, 15, 16, and 17 to run. When I ran the course with someone and not alone.
My feet tried to keep pace with her but I couldn’t. Then I realized her race and mine are not the same, We may be on the same course, with the same goal in front of us, we may even in times of great need run together but eventually I must accept that this race is about my perseverance and willingness to finish the race.
My heart led me to Hebrews 12:2 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…” Just as my fellow runner had encouraged me to keep my eyes on the finish line. I have to keep my eyes on Jesus.
As I kept running at times alone, at times I would catch up with a fellow runner and match my steps with theirs. Smile and give them encouragement as their steps slowed.
I turned the corner, there was the finish line in the front of me. I was breathing hard, my body hurt, I was sweaty, but there was the finish line.
Also at the finish line there was a crowd of cheering, clapping people, urging the runners to keep going. I also noticed the runner that had finished before me were there, to cheer on the runners coming in. My eyes finally rested on my family standing there, cheering and clapping and calling my name. I forgot about the pain and the hardship of the race and enjoyed the victory of finishing the race.
This story is a reminder of our own race to wear the victor’s crown and spend eternity with Father, Jesus and the Spirit. We will at times run alone, we will run together, we will encourage and be encourage, but ultimately we must decide to stay on the course. Keep running my friends, the finish line is just up ahead.