This summer I am training for the Twin Cities Marathon. After taking a couple of years off from such focused training due to injuries and my new call to Resurrection Lutheran Church, I will attempt to complete my eleventh marathon on October 7. Finishing is not some vague wish that I am hoping to accomplish. It is an honest assessment of my fitness, training and experience.
Like almost any physical endeavor, patient, persistent training leads to success. From past experience I know that if I am able to run consistently 35-45 miles per week, complete several long runs of 16+ miles and stay injury free, I have a better than 90% chance of finishing the 26.2 mile course. Factors that may contribute to not finishing are an unforeseen injury or illness. I have had some poor race performances (Des Moines Marathon in 2009 and Grandmas in 2007) but even in my poor races I finished.
In recent years my marathon goal has been more ambitious than simply finishing the race. I aspire to qualify and run the historic Boston Marathon. To qualify for Boston, a runner needs to run a marathon under a certain time based on their age and gender. I qualified once in 2005, but a running injury kept me from running Boston in 2006 and the qualifying time is only valid for about eighteen months. This fall I am hoping to run under 3:55 so that I can qualify for the 2014 Boston.
Now that hope is not outrageous, but it will be a true test of my abilities. It will require proper training and rest. (Overtraining can be as detrimental in marathon preparation as under-training.) It will require focused nutrition and stress management. It will also require some good luck on factors I cannot control (like race day weather).
Still I have the hope and dream of qualifying.
What distinguishes this aspiration from my Christian hope is that my marathon dreams primarily rests in myself and my abilities. My Christian hope rests totally in Jesus Christ and what he has accomplished through his death and resurrection. To quote a famous hymn, my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I am a fallible human being who may twist an ankle tomorrow, ending my marathon dreams. But my hope in Jesus remains steadfast because of the promise of God’s Word.
We have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. I Timothy 4:10.
Lord Jesus, thank you for being my rock and my hope.