Running the Race of Endurance

I stood amongst the crowd of Oktoberfest runners. I was about to start my 6th, and hopefully not my last, 5k. I shot a precautionary glance at the dark clouds looming above me. The start time was nearing, but I knew the rain would not hold off. The rain began to drip, drip, drip.

Do not grow weary.

The first 1/8th of a mile was spent weaving in and out of participants. This length of the course is where the separation between those who really run for exercise, and who don’t, begins. Those who do not run on a regular basis quickly fade at this point in the race and begin to walk. Some press on for a little bit further, but most give up jogging in order to enjoy walking the course.

Do not grow weary.

About 1/4th of a mile into the race, the rain began to hammer down. It was as if heaven itself opened the floodgates. I had a feeling the rain was not going to let up, and at this moment, I had a choice: persevere and get moving, or wince and whine all the way to the finish line.

Do not grow weary.

As I chugged along the country road, I saw the race’s quickest participants round the first mile marker and double-back on the course. They were fast, and clearly ran competitively. Soon enough, I encroached on the first mile marker myself, and I saw Mt. Angel’s marching band playing a pep tune, rallying the runners’ spirits. I needed their zest.

Do not grow weary.

At the second mile marker, the mascara I had put on earlier that morning began to slide into my eyes, making my eyesight slightly blurry, and stinging my eyeballs. I felt a little discouraged, and it was raining too much for me to take out my phone and look at my race’s timing for inspiration. I desperately needed encouragement. I kept putting one foot in front of the other, I reached the volunteers offering refreshment. They shouted and clapped as I grabbed my small cup of water and I sipped, and tossed the cup, continuing on.

Do not grow weary.

When I reached the third mile marker, I could hardly believe it. A surge of energy greeted my wilting muscles, I would will myself to the finish. I sprinted to the finish line and crossed over with a huge sigh of relief. I checked my time to find that I had run my best race yet. Despite the rain, despite the mascara, I had done better than ever before.

Do not grow weary.

Running a race gives me a tangible parallel to my relationship with Jesus. As a follower of Christ, I am “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12: 1 ESV). There are those who have known and loved God long before I was a thought to my parents. They include Martha, Mary, Esther, Paul, King David, Moses, and many more. Imperfect people whose stories point me to Jesus and inspire to be more like Him.

Running, like my relationship with Jesus, requires discipline and training. “Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and it seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV). I am to come to Him, lay aside all my cares and worries, and run with endurance. To run with endurance or perseverance does not mean I won’t encounter hardships. These will come. Just like in any race, I will have to make a choice to press forward through trials. There will be times when I will feel discouraged, needing to rely upon fellow Jesus followers for truth and guidance, and there will be times when I will be the one encouraging others.

Do not grow weary.

This phrase prefaces Hebrews 12, verse 3, “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” My relationship with God is an race of endurance. I am reminded to look toward Jesus, the one who loves me most, so that I will not grow weary or fainthearted. He persevered through his darkest moments, overcame sin and death, and loves me even when I am at my worst. In life, I can push forward and keep going because I have this promiseeternal life with God. The sweetest of  prizes awaits at the end of life’s race! What a reason to keep going.


Readers, How can you choose to persevere in your race today?

0752d-sarah2bsquareSarah believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog, and you can find her stories for Anchored Voices under the tag Sarah.

 

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