Sunday, October 14, 2007


I ran into Mike Post the week before the marathon. He has run a bunch of marathons and was in this year's Chicago marathon as well. We were talking about the affect that the training has on our bodies and spirits and we both kind of teared up. I was surprised at my own emotion. "It's gratitude" he said, "that's what I feel when I run". There is something very spiritual about the discipline of training. To me it is a metaphor of the power of the resurrection. It is God who raises me and gets me up and out there. God's gift of the resurrection breaks the spirit of lethargy that sometimes seems to choke me. I am grateful that God doesn't leave me stuck. I am grateful for the gift of life. A common prayer we hear in our community and in our shelters is the prayer, "Lord, thanks for waking me up this morning and for letting me be here, clothed and in my right mind." I am grateful.

Bob Shank of the Masters Program put it beautifully in a message forwarded to me by a friend...
Every time I repeat the marathon experience, I'm reminded of Paul's use of the runner's event to describe - in metaphor - the serious Christian's pursuit of God's purposes in their life: "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." (1Corinthians 9:24-27.)

The runner's challenge found its way into the letter to the Hebrews (which I believe was written by Paul, as well) when he said: "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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:1-3.)

Every finisher in Minneapolis - and, Chicago - was a winner. Why? We all knew that a Kenyan would be in the field, heading home with the gold. Everyone else was there to run their race, with their own mission, opposed by everything around them. Sounds like a good metaphor for life - lived on with an eternal horizon - in often unfavorable conditions.

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