I follow a popular tv show where contestants set aside their everyday life for a period of weeks to work toward the goal of getting healthier. I enjoy a friendly competition and love the subject of health and fitness. This show doesn’t stress me out and I can appreciate the personal goals that they set for themselves.
I particularly look forward to the episode each season where the contestants train for and run a marathon. Now, these are people you would not general think would run a marathon. But, in their quest for health and fitness they take on the challenge. The majority of them reach the goal while amazing the audience…and, I would think, even amazing themselves.
This particular episode aired last night. They have been talking it up for weeks now. I looked forward to it and enjoyed watching it. The end is usually fairly predictable. However, last night was different. God used it to speak to me in a very personal way.
The camera pans in on the “last stretch”. The runner/walker has literally nothing left to give. The head is hanging, the feet are shuffling, and sweat is pouring. Everything hurts.
And then…she looks up. Her eyes get fixed on the sign that says “FINISH”. She sees a group of people who are clapping and cheering and encouraging. The feet go a little faster. The blank look on her face turns into a half grin. Elbows now bent, pumping those arms a little, stride gets wider, and back gets straighter.
Then her eyes see her trainer running towards her. He wants to be with her when she crosses the finish line. He comes towards her and she is now running as if she just started! The extra energy boost kicks in and not only is she running but, she is smiling to the point of almost laughing. Thrilled that it is almost over. Ecstatic that she reached her goal. Overwhelmed that someone would run toward her and finish with her. Shocked that there is a group of people as happy about her finishing as she is.
“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! ” Hebrews 12:1-3 (The Message)
Some days, of late, I have felt like each day was that last stretch. It just seems overwhelming to be balancing the emotion of missing my Dad to the point of pure heartbreak while keeping up with my life responsibilities. When I think I can’t possibly cry anymore – here comes another dadgum tear.
I guess we never know where we are in the “stretch” of the marathon but, we have to keep going. We have to know and trust that our loving Father is right there. He is running to meet us and cheering us on all the way. He doesn’t want us to quit. He provides a cloud of witnesses that have already “blazed the trail” and are cheering us to the finish line! They are ready with a “high 5” and a hug!
” but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31
I trained for and completed a marathon a few years ago. My Dad was one of my biggest encouragers. He walked about 8 miles with me that day. My Mom walked 4 and a dear friend walked somewhere up in the teens of miles with me. I had aunts and uncles at the finish line and what were they doing? You guessed it! Cheering me on! I guess I could have done it without them. But, having them by my side made the whole process more enjoyable (well, not miles 20-23, there was NOTHING enjoyable about those)
On the days when it seems like it just can’t hurt anymore or you don’t know what to do – lean on God first. And then, lean on those people that God has placed around you… to walk with you, love on you, enourage you, and pray for you. Before you know it, you will look up and see the finish line. There will be smiles, hugs, laughs, and cheers all around! Oh glorious day!
A special thank you to all of you who are praying for me and my family. You are amazing and we want you to know that there are days that you help carry us through…so we can get up and start “running” again the next day. May God truly bless you for your friendship and kindness. You are a blessing.