day 15: white rock marathon
in december, i ran the white rock marathon, something i’d never had ambitions to do. it kind of fell into my lap, and though i would have been happy passing it on, i kept at it.
and i learned a lot.
physically, i learned that i am capable of pushing my body, of setting goals and achieving them. every time i had a good run, i’d grow in confidence and my ability to complete the full marathon. training for and running the marathon was one of the most difficult things i’ve done in a very long time. and i’m glad i did it (though i had to be pushed to start it).
but i learned a lot spiritually, too. you see, training for a marathon is a lot like running the spiritual race.
as i trained for the marathon, i did most all of my long runs with my friend kiley. running with her literally kept me going on mornings i would have preferred to stay in bed. most of time, i’d sleep poorly the night before we’d meet for an early morning (read: 5am) long run. if i’d been training alone, i wouldn’t have finished the training – i’d have stayed in bed.
sometimes, our spiritual life is like that. if i’m not surrounded by friends who are running at my pace, or even pushing me to go just a little faster, i’m likely to quit. life gets hard and, when there is no accountability, it doesn’t feel worth it to put in the long hours of “training” when you wake up tired.
also, i learned the value of new shoes and “running to win.” i knew from the beginning that i’d never be close to winning a 26.2 mile race. in fact, i’d be thrilled to not be last to cross the finish line. there are things in running that would slow me down or even take me out – old shoes, for example. i started training with a pair of shoes that weren’t well-suited for my feet. after a few weeks, my knees started to hurt. it was vital that i buy new (and expensive…*sigh*) shoes that fit me well so that didn’t injure myself. i also needed to run with a plan. if i didn’t have a plan in mind, i never would have been able to finish the race. i wouldn’t have been conditioned to run what was required.
spiritually, life is like that as well. i have to make sacrifices, throw aside encumbrances, if i want to be in it for the long haul. if i’m not willing to make the investment, i won’t go very far. i also have to have a plan for how i’m going to get across the finish line. God will certainly use things i never imagined to grow me in Christ-likeness, but if i don’t have a plan, i’m selling myself short. and i won’t be conditioned to finish the race.
and lastly, i had to keep the goal in mind. when i forgot why i was training, i got easily discouraged. at the end of one training run, while kiley was tacking on another mile, i met two men who were training for their second marathon. they had passed us while we were finishing up and encouraged me to keep training, to keep running, to keep my eyes on the prize. they knew what it felt like to finish a marathon and challenged me to continue to go the distance because i could.
as we walk with Christ, it’s vital that we, too, remember the goal. it’s not happiness or comfort or prosperity. it’s to be changed into his image. we focus on Christ, our goal, so that we won’t grow weary and lose heart.
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 our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has set down at the right hand of the throne of God. for consider him who endured much hostility by sinners against himself so that you would not grow weary and lose heart.