Marathons of Life
1 Corinthians 9:24-25
Are you running a marathon in your life right now? Are you sure of your techniques? At this point you may be thinking, 'What are you talking about?' Well now that I have you guessing, let me start making things clear.
Being the son of a keen marathon runner, I not only got a close look at marathon races, but the techniques needed to get through the race. And it is strange how it is so similar to the trials and tribulations we go through as Christians.
Let me show you what I mean. In a race there is only one goal; to run on a preset course and to reach the end of the race before the time is up.
Is this not like our spiritual walk? We are running on a marathon already run and won by our Lord and Savior. The best thing is, no matter what, we are all winners because Jesus won the race for you and me.
Setting the Pace
One of the first things any runner learns is his pace. This is the speed he needs to run at to be comfortable so as to conserve his energy. If he runs too fast he will use all his energy up too soon and he will burn himself out. The less experienced runners normally do this, but like all things, in time you learn.
Do we as spiritual runners need pace and if so have you found your pace? The answer is yes, we do need pace. Have you found your pace? This is something I must admit I still battle with at times.
You see the problem and you just want to sink your teeth right into it and sort it out. The only problem is you haven't found out what the Lord wants you to do and oh dear, you find yourself deeper in it than you ever hoped to get into.
This is when you stop and say, "Okay Lord what must I do?" and as usual the Lord is there in a flash to help you out of the mess you have made, no matter the size. The best thing is, the next race you run, you are that much the wiser and know how you should handle it - with the Lord's help of course.
Handling the Ups and Downs
The next aspect about the marathon is that is not just a straight run. It has up hills and down hills and surprisingly both are difficult. You see on the up hills you have to lean forward a bit and take bigger steps to counteract the angle you are running at which uses extra power. This process causes a stretching of the calf muscles, which can cause a burning sensation in these muscles.
You finally reach the top of the hill you are climbing, only to find a downhill. You think it is all plain sailing from here, or is it?
In order to stay in control when running downhill you have to take a smaller step than normal and also lean back a bit, this helps you not to speed up and mess up your pace. This is also where a lot of athletes hurt themselves. You have been stretching these calf muscles on the up hill and now on the downhill you bunch them up. This is where cramping sets in.
Is this not how some of your problems go? There are times when it feels like you are running up this hill that does not want to end. You are confessing scriptures and you have this positive picture of the end result. It is tough going all the way "up this hill" and just when things seem to be straightening out and getting better - we hit our spiritual downhill. Something happens: spiritual cramping and you wonder if you did it all in vain.
Well, all you can and must do, is keep on going and you will see things get better.
Using your Resources
An interesting thing about marathon running; when you start the race you feel fresh and energetic, but later on in the race you start to get tired and sore. And just when you think you can't go on, you get what experts call your second wind.
This is something a runner experiences when his body slips into a sort of "comfort zone" where it becomes easier to concentrate and his muscles don't hurt as bad. Our second wind is the Holy Spirit who gives us the comfort and strength to carry on, no matter the difficulty.
A very important thing that a runner must do is replace liquid, lost through sweating, or dehydration will set in. For this reason there are watering points all along the way, so that runners can receive water and energy drinks. It is also a place where runners can have their cramping and aching muscles rubbed and eased.
How do we do this? By taking in as much of the Word as is possible. You see not only does it give you a charge, but it also replaces what has been given out. And if you need help to ease your aching muscles there is always some one there, all you need to do is look and ask.
A Helping Hand
It is always great to watch a winner cross the finish line, but I found that the true nature of the sport was not often found in the runners at the front, but it was found in the ordinary guys at the back. Here is where you would find complete strangers helping each other. This is where you saw runners carrying runners- even though they too were weary and sore themselves, they could not stand to see a fellow runner suffer or not finish he race.
One incident that comes to mind was a group of guys that carried this guy to the finish. What was strange was they did not cross the line with this guy in hands, but instead they set him down just in front and let him cross the line on his own steam. At the time I thought they were just being mean, but my dad told me later that the guy had to cross it on his own or he would have been disqualified and lost the medal he so rightfully deserved.
Are you the ordinary guy at the back? It sure does feels like it to me sometimes, I don't know about you. One thing I know though is that there is always a fellow runner around to help. What really helps, is to find the runner worse off than you and to give him the support all the way to the end. Why? Well when you take your eyes off your problem and help someone else in need, before long you are at the finish without even realizing it.
The funny thing is that more often than not other runners join you to help you in what is going on and in so doing lighten the load for all that help. You are all so busy looking after the other guy you forgot about the hardship you were all going through and you all reach your goal together.
The Finish. These are powerful words that bring many positive thoughts to mind. Close your eyes and picture what it must be like for a runner that has been running for 8 to 10 hours nonstop, to finally see the stadium where the race ends. It must be very close to a person with no water finding an oasis in the desert. That stadium gives you that final boost to get you to the finish.
You keep your eyes on the stadium as if it is your lifeline and run till you get there and enter a place packed with people that clap and cheer you on all the way to the line that says Finish. And as you cross that line everyone cheers even harder because they realize you have just achieved your goal and they were there to see it happen. You cross the line and you receive the medal you have worked so hard for and as you look at it all the pain and suffering you went through comes back to you and you just know that it was all worth it.
We all have marathons in our lives that must be run. But with a steady pace, plenty of water and a positive picture, you will be able to achieve your goal and finish the race that has already been run and won for us by Jesus our Lord.
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