I remember running track in High School and my events were the 220 low hurdles, 110 high hurdles, and pole vault. Track was not my main sport, but it was fun and I had some good times with other friends on the track team. When we went to the away track meets we would all load up on a bus and go to a neighboring school to compete against, as many as, 10 other schools. It was fun, and I even placed high in some events and won a couple of them. My events were all centered around speed and not much distance. When we did endurance training for track I dreaded the extra running and just wanted to be Sprinter Man. You know, get out there, stretch, run the race, and get it over with. One of my best friends was in the same boat with me and he liked long distance running even less. Unlike now, years ago the 3 mile run was not something that was even highlighted and many times was put on the card as the last race of the day. Our coach didn’t know how to train distance runners and he always put all his energy in the sprints. So, if you got talked into running the 3 mile run, it was just a race to fill the bill. At one particular track meet my friend and I were packing up after our last race and heading to the bus to wait out the completion of the 3 mile run and then go home. Before we could get to the bus the coach yelled out our names and told us to come back. He went in this long rant about “team” and how important representing our school was and then followed it up with the dreaded announcement. “By the way, you guys have to run the 3 mile run today.” I almost laughed until I realized he was very serious. My friend and I looked at each other and put our bags down and started stretching. I had never run this race and really questioned whether I could even finish it. But here I was walking up to the starting line waiting to hear the gun go off! To my disgust, the gun did not misfire and the race began. The “real” runners took off and the speed in which they started a 3 mile run shocked me and my friend. We made a pact to stay together, talk about our upcoming weekend, finish the race, and then run onto the bus and go home. For those who don’t know the 3 mile run is 12, get it, 12 laps around a quarter mile track. To say the least, my friend and I had a lot of time to talk at the pace we were going. We finished the first 4 laps feeling pretty good, and only lapped by about 40% of the racers. Lap 7 was a defining point in the race for me and my friend. It was on Lap 7 that we came down the home stretch and he looked at me and said, “I’m outta here!” and ran to the bus to sit with the rest of the team who were waiting for us to finish. I remember looking back at him leaving the track and thinking, “I should quit too!” After running a few more steps, I thought to myself, “There’s only 4 more laps after this. I’ll go ahead and finish.” As I rounded the corner on Lap 11 my body started talking to me. It started saying things like, “You’re not too young to have a heart attack.” Coming from the mind of a hypochondriac caused my heart to start feeling kind of funny. I slowed a little, so I could stay alive….Ha! But then I started hearing voices. It was all kind of jumbled and I was sure I was going to lose consciousness any minute, but that’s when it came to me. The voices were the sound of my team on the bus begging me to quit and come on. Even the bus driver started honking his horn to the rhythm of my steps. Just so you know….I had slowed so much that the other teams were loading up and leaving and a lone time keeper was waiting at the finish line for me. Between looking at his watch and his stopwatch, I could tell he wanted to go. I remember crossing the finish line and looking up and there was my coach. I said, “Sorry coach.” He said three words that summed up the race. “Well, you finished.” We got on the bus to the cheers of my teammates and the horn honking of the bus driver. All of this for the guy who finished last, but…….finished.
Good finishers. Wow, we need to be good finishers. People who start something and see it through until we can’t do it anymore and know we finished what we were supposed to do. In Isaiah 40:28-31 He tells how we get the strength to finish. We tap into God’s strength and when we get tired, He kicks in at just the right time. When you get weary, He gives you strength. When you get tired. He gives you strength. When you feel like giving up. He gives you strength. God is the quintessential Marathon Man. He enables those of us who are used to sprinting to run races well beyond our capabilities and not only run them, but finish them. Even in the times when we don’t see God’s Hand He says in verse 31 of that chapter that if we wait on the Lord we will mount up on eagles wings, we will run and not get tired, and we will walk and not get weary. Have you fallen? Get Up! Finish strong!! He will make us a Marathon Man who finishes races. He will take those of us who doubt and make us believers that every moment counts. He will cause us to see things from His perspective as we run this race, sometimes even alone. We must race, and we must finish. Whether you think you are able to run a race or not, run it, and finish it. At the finish line He will lift you up when He says,”Well, you finished.” You are Marathon Man!!
The Pilgrimage continues…..