The other morning, I went for a walk around my neighborhood. As I made my way down the street, I noticed a couple of runners coming towards me. I stepped aside as they passed and I noticed they were teenagers. I didn’t think anything of it until a couple of minutes later when three more headed my way. I again stepped aside and put two and two together and realized it must be track practice or something. As I kept walking, I noticed one last runner. He was a bit behind all the others and all by himself. His running was much more labored and his facial expressions revealed his struggle. For a brief second or two I felt bad for him. But then his dedication inspired me. Although he wasn’t as fast or as smooth as the others, and even though he lagged behind his teammates, he kept running.
As I passed him, I couldn’t help but see a picture our lives in his morning run. As we run the race of life, many run faster than we do. They run smoother and more eloquently than we ever could. They seem to stride effortless and keep moving forward while we stumble and stagger around. And, as they glide ahead, we labor and struggle as we try to keep moving forward. We fall way back of the pack all the while wondering if the race is worth it. But, we have to keep running.
The author of Hebrews writes, “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” (Hebrews 12:1 ESV). His words remind us that the Christian life calls for endurance. It’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon. It’s a cross country race with hills and valleys and twists and turns. The terrain is difficult. The challenge is real. Our lungs burn and our legs ache. But, we must keep running. Don’t worry about how far behind the others you are. Don’t give up because your pace is slower. Don’t quit because your form isn’t as good or your stride isn’t as graceful. Don’t stop. Dig deep. Breathe hard. Put one leg ahead of the other. Just keep running.