Life Is A Marathon
by Stephanie Olson, Co-founder Set Me Free Ministries
I am a runner. I love to run. I love the feeling of getting away from everything in my hurried day and spending time with the Lord in His beautiful creation, knowing that His handiwork is everywhere I look. Now, since I live in Nebraska, that’s only during certain times of the year. Yet, even when I’m relegated to indoor runs, I love the feeling that running provides—the natural drug, endorphins that always seem to help my day.
Although I have run in many races, 5Ks, 10Ks, and half-marathons, I have never run a full marathon. So, this year I have decided to run my one, and only, full marathon. Why? I’m not quite sure. Perhaps it’s just to say, “I did it.” But despite the reason, the training has begun, and I now have a goal.
I’ve noticed something about myself. When I don’t have a goal that I’m trying to achieve, I will run, but I don’t push myself. Yet, when there is a goal ahead of me, I will push myself until that goal is reached.
Clearly, not everyone is a runner. Actually, it seems that running is something you either love or hate. There doesn’t seem to be an in between. Those who don’t run often view runners as—hmmm, how shall I put it?—well, crazy. I admit that there are times I feel a little crazy. There is not a single race I run that I don’t at some point I say, “I hate this! Why am I doing this?” But after every single run, race or not, I feel wonderful.
What I realized on a recent morning run is that walking the Christian walk the way Jesus intended us to walk it is not much different than running a marathon. Think about it. We can walk out our Christian walk with no real goal in mind. We go to church, we may pray a little, maybe we even do a Bible Study, but really, we don’t push ourselves. Yet, when we recognize what our goal is in our Christian walk, people may call us crazy, but it is then that we will truly do what we are called to do.
Jesus tells us in Mark 8:34, “Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.’” (NLT) Now, He doesn’t say, pick up your Coach bag and head to Starbucks or even pick up your casserole and head to the ladies guild. No, He says to pick up your cross.
What does that mean? When people in Jesus’ day were carrying their crosses, they were on their way to their death. They were on their way to their crucifixion. And we see in Galatians 2:20 that we are called to be crucified in Christ. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (NKJ)
That’s right, if you are in Christ, God has been trying to kill you since the day you received Him. He wants you to die—die to your flesh, die to your selfish ways, die to your pride, the list goes on. And why are we called to this death? Why is He calling us to “push ourselves”? Because we have a job to do right here on this earth for Christ. “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:19-20 NLT)
But we can’t make disciples unless we are disciples. This requires “training.” Spending time in His Word, spending time in prayer, and living a life of righteousness and obedience. Not because we are required to, but because we love Him and desire to serve Him. Because we understand that we are running a marathon and at the end of this race is the most amazing prize we could attain—an eternity with our Lord and Savior!
And even in all of this, we don’t (and can’t) do it alone. He tells us in the scripture we just read, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” When we die to ourselves and completely surrender to Him, we run the race with Him right by our sides.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:1-2 NLT)
You may not be a runner, but never forget you are running a marathon, the most important marathon of your life. Run your race, and run it well.