As a sophomore in High School I was mistakenly selected as a runner for our varsity cross country team. In response to this challenge I finished..LAST in my very first race. I could not see even with superman vision see a trace of the runner I saved from being last. I was quickly demoted to the Junior Varsity team for the rest of the season as I simply was not physically a strong enough runner to compete with varsity athletes.
My senior year I returned to cross country running with the goal of conditioning for the upcoming basketball. I ran JV again while the varsity team made it all the way to run in the State Finals finishing 6th. Me on the other hand was an alternate for the state team but then broke my BIG TOE in a pick up game and.. missed most of the entire basketball season. Hence, my high school accomplishments as an runner were underwhelming.
At this point in my young life.. running is treating me badly! Running is not my friend... UNTIL
Then the running community was all a buzz (not really) as I returned to competitive distance running by participating in MY FIRST MARATHON. Yes, on October 4th, 2009 I participated in and completed the Twin Cities Marathon. Thank you, thank you.
Ok, let me clarify, I participated as a fan only cheering on my daughter in law Laura and her sister Erin, BUT HEY.. it was a long day for me too.
There were several times where I did not think I would make it as I drank too much coffee at the different mile stops and the lines to the porta-pots were long. BUT.. in the last few miles we drove to a local restaurant where I sat down to eat some sweet potato fries with my wife, daughter and son at mile 21. After this much needed nourishment I could see the finish line was in my reach, and so completed my first marathon just over 5 hours after I first began.
Admittedly watching the Twin Cities Marathon, and running it are not the same thing, but let me share that I was tired, and did go home and take a nap.
Marathon Runners: Now on to those who do like to 'say' they like to run. I once had a pastor friend who has run many a marathon. My good friend Bryan Anderson combines long distance races with winter weather by participating in cross country ski races. Hmm .. COLD WEATHER + ENDURANCE SPORTS.. in my way of looking at it.. 'two negatives do not equal a postive'... and 2 wrongs don't make a right. Bryan's brother Jim has ran marathons in all 50 states, as well as marathons in other parts of the world including China.
While most of us have not run one marathon kudos to those who have. BUT for runners and non-runners alike we need to all be about what the Apostle Paul describes as... Running the Good Race.. but I take this scripture as an excellent spiritual metaphor.
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. 1 Cor 9:24
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me. Acts 20:24
I do remember the discipline of training for Cross Country races in High School. I did not enjoy it and was not a gifted runner, but it did prepare me for the upcoming races. The exhaustion and pain found in training and competing I would not call it happy, but it was satisfying when I found I was prepared for the competition.
Very much in the same way to prepare my body, mind, and soul to run this life for God takes discipline. It will be met with hardships, and the race will not be easy. This secular world has IMO is against (not just indifferent to) Christians. To be faithful to our God in these days and in the year 2020 is a race that we must take serious. This is not the time to stop off for sweet potato fries at mile marker 21. This is a time to press on and to honor God with all the moments that make up our days. In all things TO GOD BE THE GLORY
So this completes my running ramble. This is not a call to be sedentary, but this is a time to run the good race and fight the good fight.
May God find us all faithful, and REMEMBER running is a spiritual metaphor.. no need to buy new running shoes.
Jeff (Happy Trails) Larson
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson