A friend of mine just got back from participating in the Chicago marathon. I thought how cool it must be to know that you had conquered something as challenging as a marathon! A marathon is just over 26 miles. The thought of it makes my body hurt.
In Hebrews 12:1, the author talks about the all important race--the race of living the God-centered life. "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us." Who are those witnesses? I would imagine those are people who have gone on before us, people who have "been there and done that" and who are spending eternity in heaven now. How many times have you conquered something and you've told someone, "If I can do it, you can do it!" When the Bible talks about throwing aside every weight, I believe it is referring to things that hold us back or hold us down. Running a race and carrying 100 pound backpack would be excruciating! But when you throw off that backpack filled with junk, your load is lighter and you are able to complete the run without too much difficulty. And the last part talks about perseverance. When we persevere, we endure. We hang in there when the going gets rough, no matter how long we have to go in order to finish the race.
I asked my friend if she ran the whole marathon. "No," she said. "I walked some of it and I ran some it. But I finished it!" Our Christian walk is like that. We have periods in our Christian walk when we run. Some periods, we do a leisurely jog and keep our momentum. Then there are other times in our life when we just walk and it's all we can do to put one foot in front of the other; we have to take it slow.
But God has set a course for each of us to finish. He has his cloud of witnesses all along the race route cheering us on, telling us "I've been there and I know what you're going through. But you CAN do it!" The Holy Spirit whispers in our ear, "You're doing a great job. Keep it up. You're almost there!" Jesus chimes in from the sidelines and says, "I did it and you can, too. I'm with you all the way." And God meets you at the finish line and says, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."
So maybe the old saying is true: it doesn't matter how you start, its how you finish.