Some days I enjoy running. I adore the rush of the wind against my face, and the feeling that I am doing something worthwhile, as I jog steadily towards the finish line. I take in the scent of the flowers and the sight of the green fields ahead remind me of God’s wonderful creation.
Today is not one of those days. As I gaze at the hill ascending before me, I already feel the pressure of the struggle ahead. My legs are weak, and I have a stitch in my side. From somewhere close by, a little voice whispers.
“Give up now. What harm will it do to have just a little rest?”
My attention is drawn to a little café near the cliff edge. The wafting aroma of coffee and doughnuts almost persuades me to stop. Nevertheless, I keep running, albeit at a slower pace. I never cease to be amazed at how easily distracted I am. The little voice persists, and ashamedly, I listen.
“You just don’t have the stamina. You’ll never make it, lad. Give up now, I tell you, and you’ll be out of your misery.”
Maybe that’s right. Perhaps I’m just not made of the same stuff as my father, who crossed the finish line last August. My eyes are drooping, but I know that if I stop, my rest will become a slumber, and my slumber may lead to a deep sleep.
On days like this, I sometimes doubt if I’m doing the right thing. The end just seems so far away. Yet somewhere, in my mind, something convinces me that I am meant to run this race, and will make it to the end. So I decide to press on.
As my stride falters to become a walk, I try to drown out the invitations of that little voice again. As I do, I hear the footsteps, and panting breath of another runner from behind. I glance around, to see a grey-haired man of at least eighty catch up with me! I shake my head in amazement.
“Keep going, son!” he wheezes, and pats me on the back. He offers a heartening smile, then races off, unfazed by the hill. I watch closely, as I too begin to speed up. What lessons can I learn from this insignificant looking, yet determined character? As I stare, I notice how he focuses on the finish line. He doesn’t veer off the course. He just looks straight ahead.
Many times on this journey, I have met similar characters. They offer encouragement during the most difficult parts, and spur on the weaker runners.
Of course, not everyone is so supportive. There are those who stand at the side and laugh, while tucking into a rather large bag of chips. They see little point in running such a race. They don’t understand why one should become fit for the future, when you can enjoy all the pleasures of the here and now. I sometimes feel sad, as I watch families point and giggle at us. All I can do is set an example, hoping some day others will see why I run, and follow too.
As I continue to run, I can almost see the top of the hill. Although I feel exhausted, I focus on the goal ahead of me. Somehow the white finish line seems nearer than ever. Another voice, this time a loud, clear one begins to speak.
“Renew your strength in me.
Then you will soar on wings of eagles.
You will run and not grow weary.
You will walk and not grow weak.”
All of a sudden I seem to receive a second wind. I laugh as I now run effortlessly, as though someone else is in control of my body. My strength is indeed renewed! As I reach the top of the hill, I look down to see fields, trees and houses. I begin to praise and thank God again for the beauty which surrounds me, at the same time remaining focused.
Hebrews 21 v 1 - ‘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.” (NIV)
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