Today is National Running Day.
Running is one of my passions. I was introduced to marathon running in 1998 and have finished ten since then. I continue to find the training and mental preparation for a marathon stimulating. Though all marathons are a challenge, some are more than others.
Six years ago I ran Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN. It was not a “pretty” marathon for me. Not only did the high humidity and warm temperatures zap the strength of most runners, it also shrouded scenic Lake Superior in fog. The clouds kept it bearable for the first hour, but then the sun broke out and turned the race into a steam bath. I finished in 3:47 but I was not a pretty picture coming across the finish line.
What gave me strength was the community around me. I started off with my friends Steve Libby, Gary Van Cleve, and Bill Treiber near the 3:30 pace group. Steve and I stayed together with the pace group through mile 13; Steve was running strong and hoping to BQ (Boston Marathon Qualifier). I had to drop back at that point due to a four minute port-a- potty break. (I said it wasn’t a “pretty” marathon!) I struggled alone from mile 13 to 22. Then on Lemon Drop Hill, my son Jonathan showed up and ran with me to the finish. His words of encouragement kept my feet moving forward.
In Hebrews 12, the people of God are reminded that we are surrounded by a cloud of invisible witnesses, those faithful people of God who have died and rest with God. They are cheering for us in our life marathon as we race, walk, struggle, waddle, crawl towards Jesus Christ, the race director and pace setter. But I don’t think “cloud of witnesses” is restricted to the dead. Some of those who witness to me are my fellow runners who continue to give words of encouragement and inspiration as I struggle to run life’s course. Many have given me courage and strength. Thank you.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
Thank you Jesus for the ability to encourage others.