It was seven in the morning and the streets were packed with fluorescent-clad bodies, recently fueled by Clif bars and Gatorade. There was a buzz of nervous excitement echoing through the tunnels and reverberating off of the skyscrapers. I was about to start my first half-marathon, a bucket list item that had been stained with coffee over the years it rested at the bottom of my list. “Are you crazy?” I kept asking myself the months preceding the race, running on salt-stained winter roads in below freezing weather. But I was determined, and more importantly, encouraged to face this challenge. It was an achievement and a reminder that life goes on, regardless of what we’ve experienced. If we missed the last water station, there’ll be something else to replenish us further down the road.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (handily the Ligonier staff memory verse) came to mind: “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.”
During our life marathons, we all experience lulls. We feel exhausted, breathless and weak. We spend too much time saying “I should’ve worn these running shoes” or “I should’ve done the Boston marathon instead” to focus on what we’re doing right now that will get us to the next mile. Even when we try to turn around and retrace our steps, we don’t subtract the miles; they continue to add up as we go against the current, weaving through people and places that’ll inevitably be different than we expect them to be.
When I finally reached mile 12, I looked around me as Alex and I were crossing the last bridge. Even with complete strangers by my side I felt joy and exhilaration. Thousands of people were running for entirely different reasons, but heading for the same finish line together. I was reminded that it’s not just important, but it’s necessary to have positivity, encouragement and support for each other as we run through life. It’s not enough to focus on our own achievements, but to help those around us reach their personal bests when they cross the finish line.
Going into my 23rd year of life I’m looking ahead at the many situations in which I’ll be used for encouraging others, and in doing so, the ways it’ll shape my own journey. Seeking to be refreshed and renewed, I’m encouraged by this verse from Hebrews to keep pushing through the obstacles. I’m excited for the literal marathons ahead, and each individual day that’ll add to this race we call life.