I’m watching an indoor track meet from Madison Square Garden, hoping to catch sight of my nephew, Josh. He’s a collegiate runner and also competes in the race walk. I’m just barely a runner, mind you, but his walk time of just over 6 minutes is almost half my run time for a mile. Ah well.
Watching the meet, I understand why Paul used running a race as a metaphor for the Christian life. I have teammates, coaches and trainers, but ultimately, it’s my personal race. It’s my responsibility to train, to condition myself, and to work through injuries. Most of that preparation is done alone, depending on my own self-discipline. If I slack off even a day, it may cost me. It’s important that I eat right and strength-train. I need to be equipped with the right shoes. I have a course laid out before me, and it’s critical that I stay on track. My finish depends on it. I can’t get distracted by what other runners are doing. I can only run my race well.
Josh runs cross-country, too and in some ways that’s a better picture of this race we’re in. The runners get individual times but the team does better when each runner performs well. As we run our races well, we encourage those around us to finish strong.
In 2009, I only ran a few months before it got too cold for me, so I have yet to reach that point real runners talk about when they feel like they could go forever. (I had no trouble getting to the ‘I hope this is not a heart attack’ point.) This Christian race, though, I’m running to the very end.