Running the Race

(pic of Rich in the middle of running the Chicago Marathon in 2007–he stopped when he heard me screaming his name and let me take a picture :-)

Races. Today Emily, our teenaged daughter, is finishing a marathon week of music camp at St Olaf (a local college). She has sung, played, made friends, learned so much. The camp ends with a concert this afternoon–I\’m looking forward to that and hearing about all she has learned and seeing her again. We\’ve really missed her! Charlie, our college bound son, is wrapping up caddying at a golf tournament with a long distance day involving two shot gun starts. He is caddying for our friend, Scott…they have a great time together out on the fairways of life as well as golf. Rich, my husband, is, as I write, in the midst of running Grandma\’s Marathon (26 miles)…yeah, he is running a real marathon today. He grew up in Two Harbors (the starting point) so is starting where he came from…kinda cool. :-) This is his second marathon, he ran the Chicago Marathon last year when it was so hot they actually closed the course mid race and made the runners walk. People were dropping like flies on the pavement from the heat and humidity and the medics and ambulances couldn\’t keep up. One man actually died. So, Rich finished the race but was forced to walk 7 miles of it, which he found less than satisfactory. So he runs today, with our friend, Todd. Thousands are cheering them on, along a route Rich grew up traveling on…a beautiful, scenic road along the North Shore of Lake Superior. Run, Rich RUN!!

So, it got me thinking about marathons and races, faith and life. The Apostle Paul mentions faith as a race in a couple of his writings and the author of Hebrews mentions it too. Various spiritual writers through the ages have also used the metaphor.

Obviously in good company, I concur, faith is a race…The decision to follow Jesus is just the starting point. After we start, we always have options. As Rich will see today, some will drop out, some will turn around, some will go slow, some will run fast, some will alternate between walking and running, some will stop and think about quiting… I don\’t know about you, but I can see all of these running styles in the faith walks (or should I say \’faith runs\’) of people I know.

For some, faith never takes root so the runner drops out close to the start line. For some the race is too hard, asks more than the runner is willing to give, so he/she turns around and goes back to his/her comfort zone. For some, it is slow going…change isn\’t embraced, God isn\’t wholeheartedly sought, their trust level is low so they hesitantly pound pavement that they aren\’t sure is trustworthy. For some, they stop, take a break and wonder whether to continue. I see this as a precarious place…I think in the race of faith stopping isn\’t really stopping, it is regressing…we either move forward or move backward, there is not a place to land and put down roots…this is a race, not a homestead staking. (I look in the mirror on this one…I know the next step to take, but hesitate…time to quit looking at myself and look down the road, to the finish line, and rely on Him for every step of the way). Some are ready, let go of sin, focus on God, and once they start, they run well…with pain, falls, and obstacles, yes, but without looking back, eyes glued on the Goal.

Hebrews 12:1-2a paints quite a marathon picture \”…since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,[those who\’ve run the race before us] let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…\”

Jesus the author and finisher, the Alpha and Omega, the starting line and the finishing line…guess He\’s got the whole course laid out, just gotta run it. Grateful He runs it with us, nice to know we\’ve got the greatest long distance runner ever by our side, compelling us on to the finish line, where He also awaits with the \’crown of righteousness\’ for all \’who have loved His appearing\’ (2 Timothy 4:8).

Update: Rich ran the marathon in 4 hours 33 min and 11 seconds!!!! Way to go, hon!!!

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