This past weekend Nathan, Bethany, and I ran the Mayberry 10K (6.2 miles) in NC. Bethany had won first place overall for the women two years ago so she was wanting to defend her title. Nathan hadn’t been able to train much because of work and school. I had been able to train, but I had the age thing going against me.
We were all in different circumstances, but in the same race. Isn’t that just like life?Comparing life with a race is so interesting to me. As I was running, the analogies flooded my thinking, but I wasn’t able to write any of them down. I’d like to share a few that I remembered.
- We have no control over some of our conditions in life
After unusually balmy weather for November, the temperature was to drop the night before the race. We were hearing it would be 32 degrees the morning of the race. Ouch! This complicates things because it’s cold before the race and you want warm clothes, but as you get into the race, you warm up and don’t need the extra clothes heating you up and weighing you down.
In Hebrews 12:1 Paul said, “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us…” Sin holds us back from living the abundant life God has for us.
Although we sometimes reap negative consequences due to our poor choices, often times while striving to live for God, we are thrown into circumstances in which we have no control. In these times, we must pray for God’s help, trust that He is in control, and seek to learn how to be a better person as a result of them.
- Pace yourself
This has always been a challenge for me. At the beginning of a race, I am SO excited! The adrenaline is rushing. I feel good. When the horn goes off, I’m like a caged rabbit being released.
This is what happened Saturday morning. Bethany shot off like a streak of lightening and was out of sight in no time. I was rearing to go, but Nathan was holding back. He said, “Mom, I haven’t had time to train. You go ahead!” It’s at times like this that I hate my competitiveness. I wanted to stay with him, but I wanted to do my best. I decided it would make him feel bad to know I was holding back for him, so I ran on ahead.
At about 2 miles Nathan caught up to me. Now he was feeling good, and I was feeling tired. As we approached a steep hill I glanced over at Nathan who was looking like he was just warming up. I said, “Nathan, I’ve messed up. I started out too fast. I’m afraid I’m going to run out of gas and not make it.” He encouraged me to keep going.
He had been walking up the hills while I tried to jog up them. It had been a wise decision on his part. Note to self: When life gets tough, you may not be able to keep up the speed you’ve been living life. Don’t give up. Give yourself time to recharge. Spend extra time in God’s Word and in prayer.
I’ve seen Christians really on fire for God. They are impressive. They work hard in the church and serve God fervently. But a few times I’ve found that some years later, they no longer attend church at all. Maybe they burned out. We must constantly make time to nurture our personal relationship with God and make sure we are being led by the Holy Spirit.
Then there is the aspect of spending lots of time in Bible study and church going, but neglecting to share that knowledge with others or practically apply what I’m learning. I must be careful to not equate church attendance with serving God. I believe God gives us opportunities every day to serve Him and love others.
- Just do your personal best
Bethany had trained hard, but came in second place by 12 seconds. She did her best and had a great time of 45 minutes, but had to watch another cross the finish line ahead of her. While we were all so proud of her, she was disappointed. My mom asked me if I had known that I would miss first place by 1 minute, could I have done better. I responded, “No, I actually did the very best I could.”
God requires our best….no more. He has equipped each of us uniquely for the special purposes He has for us alone. It is not wise to compare ourselves with others. If we think others are better than we are, we get discouraged. If we think we are doing better than others in a particular area, we tend to get prideful. Neither is beneficial.
2 Corinthians 10:12 says, For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
- We need the support and friendship of others
My sister couldn’t stay for the race because of other obligations, but she came to encourage us before the race. Wesley, Bethany’s husband, my Uncle Charles, and my parents came to cheer us on. What a blessing they were to us!
Their cheering reminded me of Hebrews 12:1 where it says, “Seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses…”
When we know others are watching and cheering us on, it motivates us to do our best. We have loved ones who have gone on before us. I believe they are watching from the banisters of heaven and are cheering us on.
We need the help of others to get to the finish line in this life.
If you aren’t regularly meeting with a group of believers around God’s Word, please find a group you can join to do that. Nathan and I enjoy going to Community Bible Study as well as attending church. It is vitally important that we continue to learn how God wants us to live and then be encouraged by others’ examples and have sweet fellowship with them.
- “Why are you doing this?”
Along about mile 5 while climbing a hill in the race, Nathan and I passed some men at a shop. They called out, “Why are you doing this?” It is a legitimate question. It is hard for people who don’t like to run to understand those you do. And to be honest, as my lungs were screaming for air, I had to wonder too! Here is why I run.
I had cancer last year. My grandmother died of a massive heart attack at age 67 and my daddy had a massive heart attack when he was around 45 years old. By a miracle from God, he lived through it, but heart trouble runs in my family. I want to live life to the fullest. I want to be as healthy as I can be.
I want to make memories with my children and be a part of their lives.
There will come a day when I can’t run so I want to run while I can.
So that was a good question and it is one I try to ask myself often. “Why am I doing this?” My motives need to be good. When it comes between choosing to please myself or meet another’s need, this is a good question to help me make the right decision.
- Life isn’t always fair
My Aunt Denise competed in the Mayberry 5k. When her only competitor in her age group fell, the true colors of my sweet aunt shone brightly. She stopped to help her up. They became friends as they continued the race side by side. When the awards were given out, my aunt errorously received the second place medal. She crossed the line first, but the judges made a mistake. Was it fair? No. Did she deserve first place? Yes. Was she properly rewarded what was due her? No. Was she a winner? Definitely! Knowing she had earned first place, she graciously received her second place medal without a word. She made God smile and set a beautiful example for the rest of us.
- My father’s at the finish line
As Nathan and I were in the last mile of the race, we could not see anyone ahead of us. Nathan asked me if we were bringing up the rear. I knew we had passed a lot of people, but there were also several half marathon runners going the same route so we weren’t sure where we stood in the race. That’s when I turned and looked behind us.
I instantly remembered what Jesus said in Luke 9:62, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” I felt like Lot’s wife in Genesis 19:26 who looked back while escaping Sodom and turned into a pillar of salt.
Anyway, there was no one in sight. So we just kept running. I was getting really tired and felt like walking, but then I realized that this race was different from any I had ever ran before. My daddy was waiting at the finish line! I wanted to finish well and make him proud of me.
When life gets hard, it is helpful to remember our Father is at the finish line. I want to finish well and hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
- The end of life can be an uphill climb
The finish line was at the top of a hill. Ugggghh. As I neared the end, I was tired and looking forward to being done…. but there was one more hill to climb. As life here on earth draws to a close, it can get tough. Sometimes the heartaches of life seem to increase and become more intense. We long for relief.
Maybe God does this to help ease our hold on life here and make our transition easier. As Christians, when we begin to see what is at the end of this race of life, we can be excited! We will forever be with Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. There will be no more pain, sorrow, or sickness. All will be well.
Along with the closure of pain and suffering though is also the end of opportunities to prepare for the next life. While we have breath and our being here, we need to seize the opportunities to lay up treasure in heaven. I believe what we do here will affect us in eternity.
May we run our race well by being obedient to what our Father has called us to be and do for His glory.
Keep looking up,
I Corinthians 9:24-27 “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is self controlled in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown; but we an imperishable. I therefore run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I discipline my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.”