Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 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 am a runner. In my younger days, I used to LIKE running. It actually felt good. These days, I don’t like it at all. But, I truly appreciate the sense of accomplishment and discipline it personally affords me.
The other day I was telling a friend, who is not a runner, what it felt like to run a race. It hurts. I usually hate every minute of it, asking myself why in the world I signed up for this. I even PAID for it. How foolish was that?!! I am constantly looking for the finish line, wondering if I can possibly make it that far. I can’t breathe. I might even throw up. If, by chance, I start to feel like it’s not so bad after all, you can bet I’m not giving it my best effort. All I want is to be done!! I don’t even care whether or not I’m on course to win a medal… I just want to cross that finish line.
The funny thing is, the only thing keeping me from quitting is myself. Nobody else cares if I stop and walk off the path. All my friends standing along the road cheering me on would be disappointed, but they would definitely understand. It’s obvious by the look on every runner’s face how hard a race can be. If their face hides it, their gasping cannot.
So, what keeps me running? The sense of having run a race well. The accomplishment of giving it my best effort. Testing the strength of my preparation and training. Fighting to get to that finish line successfully. Knowing that my character is being honed. Rising above mediocrity and boredom.
The same can be said about my approach to life. When I come to the end, I want it said that I gave it my all. That when it came to testing the strength of my preparation and training, my faith in God’s sovereignty and goodness held true and unwavering. That I fought for Truth, even in the face of lies tempting me to give up and take the easy road to personal happiness. That my life poured out forgiveness and mercy as graciously as Jesus did, which in itself dispels all mediocrity and boredom. I want to look in the face of the Time-keeper as I gasp for air stumbling by, and hear Him say, “Good run.”
Within five minutes after finishing a race, after I’ve had a chance to catch my breath and my legs stop shaking, you’ll usually hear me say, “Whew! That was fun! Let’s do it again!” The sense of accomplishment having overpowered the distaste of the race. Crazy, I know. That must be what is meant by a runner’s high. There’s just something indescribably great reaped into the heart through a journey of pain and perseverance. Something not grasped or understood through any other means.