Tomorrow, I will participate in the Boston Marathon, marking the greatest athletic feat of my life. And of course, I am feeling crazy emotional about it. I feel overwhelmed by all the work – the countless hours and miles – that it took to get here. I feel grateful to be a part of arguably the most important Boston Marathon in history. I feel so proud that just a few years ago, I was certain that I would only qualify when I was in the 60-year-old age group. And of course, I feel a smidgen of fear in light of the senseless events last year.
Right now, I am on the plane en route to Boston and reflecting on why I am doing this. Why am I running?
One of my favorite quotes about running is from Chariots of Fire, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” I am certainly not the fastest runner you know, but I do feel like the Lord has given me a special kind of endurance – physically and mentally. So, I run because God gave me the ability to do it, and do it well. I run because I can.
Don’t we all do some things because we can do them in a way that other people can’t? Aren’t doctors performing surgeries because people who haven’t had the years of training and experience shouldn’t be performing surgeries? Aren’t computer programmers programming because other people’s brains don’t compute 1′s and 0′s the way programmers do? Right now, on the plane, I am quite comfortable eating blue chips and drinking bottled water, trying to read lips on my tiny TV screen since I forgot my headphones, rather than flying the plane. I’ve resolved to let the pilot that allegedly has a license do the flying.
In the same way that all these people do things because they are uniquely made or specially trained, I run because I can. I have been made in such a way that I can run for long hours and hard miles, and still have a lucid conversation during and afterwards. Sure, I do enjoy running. But it may be true that I enjoy it because I am kinda good at it. And it’s clear my body can do something that not all of creation can do.
So, I don’t want to run tomorrow just to pat myself on the back and to check off a bucket list item. I don’t want to waste this. Because what is true is that when I run a marathon, I am able to uniquely reflect a little something about Jesus. Jesus who endured the pain and the anguish of the cross for the joy that was set before him. A marathon gives me the opportunity to run an infinitely less significant race with endurance to reflect what Jesus did for me, and how He will persevere me to finish my spiritual race well. (Hebrews 12.1-2).
So, tomorrow, I will not waste this opportunity. I am running to remind myself of the cross that Jesus endured for me and the race that God has called me to. And while remembering that truth, I will run in honor of my little buddy that already completed his race. The monkey that has crossed his finish line, and is circled back in the cloud of witnesses waiting for the rest of us to cross ours. Tomorrow, I will run in honor of Kai. And I will run to honor his very brave parents and sister as they are enduring the most difficult season I can possibly imagine.
This one is for you, Slockers. We love you so much!
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)