All the race fans were on the left side of a divided highway, with two lanes going in each direction. On the same side as the fans, runners were still making their way out. I was on the far right side, still walking, having given up running a couple miles back after my vision went blurry and my body had been depleted. In between, was a water station offering cups of water to runners going in either direction. Suddenly, on the left side, a short man, with dark hair came out of the crowd and crossed the road to where I was and began walking beside me. I didn’t know who this man was, but he challenged me to begin running again.
I kind of chuckled and began to say, “No, you don’t understand what I’ve been through and the shape that I am in right now”.
He didn’t let me continue; “You are going to start running and you will start right now!” he said in an encouraging but authoritative way, “Take one step at a time but don’t you stop until you cross the finish line!”
I could think of no other response except to try. I took that very painful and fearful first running step and another and another as my mystery encourager kept calling after me. Each step brought pain, but the pain was decreasing to a manageable level and I was in fact running again! I was going to run across the finish line! I was further encouraged when I saw my brother, Christian, who had come out looking for me and jumped in and ran beside me from mile 25 to the finish. I was beginning to feel like I was on top of the world! Thank you God for putting the right people in my path to encourage me to finish this race!
I crossed the finish line in three hours and twenty-seven minutes; way slower than my goal, in a tremendous amount of physical discomfort, but with a feeling and experience that would help shape my life and my walk with God.
In the marathon of life, you are somewhere in the race. Many of you might feel like I did in the race - tired, confused, hurt, and maybe you feel it is all you can do to just maintain the pace that you are on. I had to be encouraged to move out of the walk and run the rest of the race. Maybe someone is encouraging you to move out of a certain pace that you have gotten comfortable with. Maybe it is someone asking you to join a prayer group, even though it might seem frightening or uncomfortable. Or maybe it is to teach a Sunday school class, or lead worship, attend a prayer meeting, go to church, serve on a committee, or witness to your neighbor, etc., etc.
Be encouraged, that Believers will finish the race as winners because of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and the sacrifice that he made for us. As we receive him as Lord and Savior, his word says that we have crossed over from death to life! But God may be calling you right now to spiritually “run” in a new and more fulfilling way. Listen for and obey his voice!
Be attentive to God’s voice calling, encouraging you to continue in the race for him. You might even be a spokesperson for God as you encourage each other along the way! Paul said to Timothy, his young apprentice, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” I was able to finish the marathon race with several who encouraged me along the way. The race of faith is a day by day journey; I encourage you to run the race of faith today.