running the race

I was a runner years ago. Real runners might be offended by that statement because my pace was more like “a slogger”, otherwise known as a slow jogger. One summer I mapped out and trained to run a half marathon simply to see if I could do it.

splits

I learned so much from that experience! As I trained, I became intimately acquainted with the paths. I kept track of my mile times and “splits”. (Splits are your individual mile times over the course of the total miles being run.) Some of my splits were faster than others depending on the weather, hills, or how tired I was when I started. Some were slower simply because I knew the path so well that I automatically anticipated a difficult stretch of road.

challenge of weather

Weather conditions didn’t deter me. Some days were cool and quiet, leaving me on that runner’s high that felt like I could conquer anything. Some found me running directly into a headwind as rain pelted me like so many bee stings. Other days, the humidity clogged my lungs making it hard to find my groove.

the half marathon

The scheduled morning of the half marathon dawned hot and humid. I knew it was going to be a challenge to complete 13.1 miles. I was grateful for the stashed energy drinks and areas of respite along the course. Starting out, I soon found that familiar cadence where miles just passed effortlessly. Making it to the first hidden drink about one third of the way in. I was feeling good. Music pumped through my headphones in time with my arms and the stride of my footfalls. I was in my happy place.

the agony

The second third of this run was harder as the sun moved higher in the sky and the temperature rose with it. My tired limbs were screaming in revolt by the time I hit the second rest point. I was questioning every motive I had for this insane venture. Multiple excuses for giving up flooded my brain. But I knew I had to persevere.

Three months of training and talking with the Lord through the difficult stretches ingrained in me knowing that I had to finish. This journey had become about much more than running. It had become a metaphor for my walk with the Lord. I set out on the final 3.1 miles literally crying. No perfectly timed beats of music declaring God’s goodness could take away the burning of my lungs, sore muscles throughout my body, or chafing on my arms and legs. I told myself it didn’t matter how long it took me to do it, I just had to complete this race. Only pressing into God’s grace and His presence with me would get me to the finish line.

the finish

I finished the race that day, tired, battered, and literally bleeding. In contrast, my euphoria was out of this world. The Bible compares the Christian life to running a race. Hebrews 12:1 says, …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. I have drawn many times from the deep well of lessons found in my “slogs”. Life has its share of beautiful days, but there are also the hills that never get easier, pelting storms, and sorrow that burns with every breath. At the end of our days, we can look forward to more than the runner’s high. We are running to receive the crown of life God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12) This prize is worth it! Let’s run in such a way to get it. (1 Corinthians 9:24).

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