A few days ago, my son told us he was training to run a marathon. It reminded me of the days (more than 25 years ago!) I would get up early Sunday mornings to run with a group of all kinds of people, all of us hoping to run a marathon after training for one whole year. I would also run three more times during the week. If I missed those weekday runs, I wouldn't be able to keep up during the Sunday run.
Anyone who knows me would know that I am a most unlikely marathoner. A marathon is a long-distance foot race (according to Wikipedia, it has an official distance of 42.195 kilometers (26 miles 385 yards). Me? Run 42 kilometers? I can just hear the words, "in your dreams!"
Well, I guess dreaming is a good place to start! I realized, as I joined this group, that for many of us, our dreams about running a marathon were not about winning the race or finishing first. It was simply about finishing. Period. It was about training and persevering to reach that goal. It was about doing it together with other people who had the same goal.
Come marathon day, I was ready to go and determined to finish. Pacing myself, I just kept running (ok, ok, it could have looked like we were walking). There were ups and downs in the road, and, after hours and hours, the most unlikely marathoner crossed the finish line. I did it!
Our life is much like this race. Many of us aren't called to "finish first", to do what other perceive to be big things for God. We aren't called to be popular evangelists or write bestsellers. Many of us are simply called to live our lives as parents, sisters, employees. Simple lives. But I believe that to persevere in living our simple lives in a way that is pleasing to God, to love God and be obedient to His ways is enough. To keep on keeping on.
To run the marathon and finish it, I listened well to my trainer's instructions and followed them. He told us to train by running at least this number of minutes for this number of days a week (it's been so long, I've forgotten the details!). He told us to drink water, to pace ourselves, to carbo load the day before, etc. So I did. And by doing so, I finished the race.
To live a life that is pleasing to God, it is so important to listen well to God's instructions and follow them. The bible is full of His loving instructions and His promises when we obey them. To live my life well, I need to know what God says about the situations I find myself in as a wife, a mother, and whatever my other roles are. He tells me how to love, to forgive, to train up my children. After almost 30 years of striving to be obedient to Him, I fully believe that obedience brings Blessing.
I ran the marathon with my Dad and my sister and brother. The people we trained with became familiar to us and we encouraged one another to keep on. Just like in the marathon, there are ups and downs in life, but, it is easier to live a life pleasing to God when you do it with other people who have the same goal. The world around us tells us different things about how we should live our life. Many times, it's the exact opposite of what the bible says. When we become part of a community, to have brothers and sisters in the Lord to support and encourage us, it is easier to listen to God's words rather than all the other voices around us.
And after all this, however simple and insignificant our lives may seem, I pray we will eventually be able to say, in the words from 2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought the good fight. I have completed the race. I have kept the faith."