Note: This post was written by Anita Peluso.
“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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” – Hebrews 12:1-2
What does it mean to run the race marked out for us?
A few years ago my best friend, my husband, and I determined that we were going to walk (not run) a marathon. At first, I thought that it was going to be easy. How hard could it be to walk for 8 hours? I work in retail and spend 8 hours on my feet all the time! Running, of course, would be much harder. And so we began a training program that started with walking for a half hour twice a week and then one long walk beginning at 2 miles. It was fun to get together, the 3 of us, and go on these walks. It wasn’t hard and it didn’t take a long time. Piece of cake.
But let me tell you, the course of training that started out easy became harder and harder. At 14 miles I nearly quit. I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it. But my best friend encouraged me to not give up. Because we made a point of training together, even though I badly wanted to quit, it was even harder to let her down and not continue. 14 miles for me was a wall, and once I got past that wall, mentally, it started becoming easier. Physically, it was still a challenge. But mentally, I knew that if we stuck to the program we would be able to do it.
The program continued to increase in time and mileage every week over the course of 6 months so that we would be amply prepared for the 26.2 mile marathon. After 3 months we were walking 13 miles, and at 6 months we were walking 22 miles. And in October we walked 26.2 miles in seven hours at the Portland Marathon and I accomplished my goal of finishing while the support stations were still posted along the route.
Training for and walking that marathon was a life changing experience for me. I used to be discouraged, even annoyed with these verses in 1 Corinthians.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” — 1 Corinthians 9:24-25.
When I used to read these verses, it would reinforce my feelings of inadequacy. I have often been the last one picked in dodge ball, the shortest in a crowd, the least in a competition. I’m often the one missing out, losing out, or just plain out of it.
But after the marathon, I began to look at these verses differently. It’s not about winning… or being The Winner. In the life of being a Christian we are not competing with each other to memorize the most Bible verses, or sing the best worship songs, or even sin the least. We are competing with ourselves. We are striving to be better than we were yesterday.
I think that the life of a Christian is a lot like training for a marathon. 5 miles seems like a long ways when you’ve only gone 2. 13 miles looks impossible when you’ve only gone 5. But when you’ve gone 22 miles, 13 is looking pretty good.
In the marathon of life, we need to keep putting one foot in front of the other. If you watched any of the Olympics a few years ago, it seemed to me that “this is a personal best for …(insert athlete’s name)” was said a lot by the commentators. We, as Christians, are working towards achieving our personal best thus far.
And as for helping each other to look ahead and finish the race, it’s about training side-by-side, to set out and accomplish what we have decided to do. It’s about keeping perspective of where we were when we started and where we are going. It’s about working towards our personal best. And we have a trainer, the Holy Spirit, who will help us stay on track if we only ask for guidance.
by Anita Peluso, guest blogger. Visit her blog at www.bloominworkshop.wordpress.com