Is this a marathon or a sprint?
A runner is something I am not. I won’t pretend to be. I won’t claim to be. I can run when necessary. By that statement I mean, I regularly run after my dog when she chases other dogs out of our yard and this Summer when we got caught in a bad rain storm at the beach I was able to run to their pier. However, I do not like running, nor do I consider myself someone who runs.
I said that to say, I am not up on my terms that are associated with marathons and sprints. Forgive me if I mess up on my running lingo here. I don’t claim to know details about either, but I would like to think I know the basics and could make the following general assumptions:
Marathons are long. Sprints are short.
Marathons test endurance. Sprints test speed.
If I ran, I would most likely be a sprinter.
To me, sprints are quick ways to the finish line. While I know they present their own unique difficulties, they require pushing yourself hard for a short period of time. They provide quick results.
This morning I started really pondering why I would prefer sprints over marathons.
For me, there are so many questions associated with a marathon and so many places my mind goes.
Have I trained enough?
Should I have come to this better prepared?
Where is the finish line?
How long do I have left to go?
What is around the corner?
Am I pacing myself right?
Is that next turn going to be full of mud and rocks and hills or will it be paved terrain that runs downhill?
Is that just wishful thinking to hope I am about to be on an easy stretch?
Should I go all in right now, or save some of this energy for later?
What if I get off the path and have to forge a new one?
Who will be there to cheer me on when I finish this?
How long until I can ease up?
How long until I can get a drink of water?
How long until I can breathe easier?
How long until I relax?
HOW MUCH LONGER?
So many questions come to my mind when I think about marathons.
So many questions I don't have the answer to.
This morning I had a verse on my mind:
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
It was in that moment I realized that in this life we are not promised only sprints. We are never promised quick results. We are never promised being able to see the finish line. We are never promised easy terrain.
Maybe we are given marathons to test our endurance. Maybe we are given marathons to help others train for theirs. Maybe we are given marathons to show God how long we can depend on Him to sustain us. Maybe marathons are a test of faith. Maybe marathons build us into the Christians we need to be. Maybe marathons make us better humans.
Dear friend, if your sprint has turned into a marathon, keep running.
One thing that marathons and sprints have in common is the way you run them - one foot in front of the other.
God only knows how much longer you have on your marathon.
He knows what the rest of the path holds.
He knows what trophy is waiting for you at the end.
Cling to the One who knows how to sustain you, my friend.
You have been assigned a unique number in this race.
I’m cheering you on.
Finish your marathon.
When you feel your feet getting tired and your lungs closing in, take a breath and pray.
God will carry you through.
Romans 5:3-5 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.