“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1
I live and work right outside Memphis, Tennessee, home to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. This facility has done great work in helping treat childhood cancers, and I know several patients – including the daughter of our Lead Pastor – whose lives have been saved there.
Every winter, St. Jude hosts a fundraiser marathon. The hospital’s policy is that no family pays a dime, no matter their insurance or financial status, and this event is one of their biggest sources of funds. Hundreds of people from across the country run in a full marathon (that’s a daunting 26.2 miles), a half marathon (13.1 miles, just as bad) and a 5K (a little more my speed at 3.1 miles, but STILL). Last year, several of my friends participated, and this year one of them, our Creative Arts Pastor, has decided that our whole church staff will run.
(I’m doing the 5K. Go small or go home.)
For those of you who don’t know me in real life, I’m not a gym rat. I don’t even run when chased. I commute half an hour each way to sit at a desk for around eight hours, then do other various non-athletic things until I return home, sometimes 12 hours later. If not for my dogs, I’d come in and never leave the couch. Netflix is my spirit animal. The thought of moving my feet for that long in front of some of my closest friends and thousands of strangers terrifies me.
But, I’m no party pooper. So I’m doing it. Except, I figured if I couldn’t even WALK 10,000 steps a day (the current recommendation from experts in America, and about five miles) how could I RUN any at all? So before I begin my training to run, I have started a regimen of walking. I’m making sure that no matter what, I get those steps in every day.
Thankfully we live in a technological era, and I have some pretty competitive friends with similar goals, so we’re challenging each other to “races” on our fitness trackers. I don’t know how these ladies do it (well, a couple have toddlers to run after) but I struggle to keep up! No matter. They cheer me on, just the same.
And they cheer me on in my Christian race, too.
We get endurance from their encouragement.
I am blessed with great friends who send me encouraging scriptures and pray for me when I’m having a hard day. And I check on them if we haven’t talked in a few days, and let them know the sun will shine again. We go through happiness and heartbreak, loss and gain, together. I have their backs, and they have mine.
And that’s how we get from Point A (our salvation) to Point B (the end of our journey) without losing our hope (or our minds). We have people who have done this before, and people who are doing it now, and they’re just waiting on us to take the first or the tenth or the 10,000th step. We can’t do this alone! I would be much less likely to start this training, much less complete it, if I wasn’t getting constant reminders from people I care about and who care about me. And I’d have given up on living life for Christ a long time ago if I didn’t have people holding me accountable and giving me encouragement.
If you have accepted Jesus, you are a witness to the “life of faith.” You may not be far on your journey, but you’re further than someone. You can turn around, look at who is struggling, and cheer them on. You can help them find their endurance and make it across the finish line.
You can be an aid station on the marathon of life.
You can make it, and you can help others make it too.