I’m not much of a sporty person, especially when it comes to cardio. I do however enjoy watching some sports like the Olympics, Paralympic’s and on this particular day the London Marathon.
Every year thousands of people flock to London to participate in this world renown event. With such a large amount of people from olympians, paralympians, runners, walkers and everything in between, the start times are staggered to make sure everyone has the chance to perform at their best.
Out of all the groups on the live TV broadcast, me and mum gravitated towards the women’s runners. This group of strong individuals were jogging the course at a competitive pace all except one. Green shorts, white striped shirt and a head of cornrows was how we identified her. The race had not long begun and this one woman was falling behind drastically. Commentators highlighted a look of discomfort on her face followed by a firm hand clutching onto her left thigh. Something was wrong, something wasn’t okay.
The runner was in pain. It was her first marathon, a trial for bigger things. She had trained for it but marathon running was not her main sport. She is well known for her performances in mid to long distance track running. This marathon was just an additional challenge. Was she out of her depth?
Despite the pain the runner kept going. Concern was evident in the voices of the commentators: “She needs to listen to her body”, “it’s time to stop running”, “she’s done really well, she can give up now”. But the runner didn’t stop, she kept going.
The pain was intensifying, the grimace on her face was hard to watch. She slowed down to a stop, stretched for three seconds and carried on. Again, she stopped, stretched for a few seconds and carried on. Why was she not giving up? Her body seemed to be shutting down and she was at risk of damaging her olympic career. Did she know something we didn’t?
Cameras continued to flick between the marathon running groups but our minds were focused on that one runner. As the other races concluded and the women’s race became the main focus, things started to change. The same runner that has fallen significantly behind the leading pack, had somehow recovered time and was now running just three seconds behind them. The pain in her hip seemed like an issue of the past. She was gaining momentum and running with ease.
The race progressed and the runner kept running. Our hearts with joy saw glimmers of hope. Would she actually catch up to the rest of the pack? Nah! She couldn’t. It was impossible! Or so we thought.
Watching on from behind the tv screen this lady in green shorts continued to pass her competitors one by one until she found herself in the top three runners. This in itself was a phenomenon. The commentators had suddenly changed their tune too, “she knows her body”, “she’s going to make it”, “that’s one incredible athlete”.
Getting on with some weekend chores I rejoined mum on the sofa for the last leg of the race. The final mile. The finish line was in sight and the three front runners pushed their bodies as hard as they possibly could. My favourite runner, or so I’m now calling her, went from third place, to second place. Second place to first place. Not only that, she created a lead no one could even come close to her on. She sprinted across the finish line in disbelief with a look on her face that screamed “did I just win?”
She won. She actually won!
Sifan Hassan, an Ethiopian-Dutch, middle-long distance runner, the underdog, the impossible winner, had just torn apart the London Marathon! I felt so inspired I wrote this blog post.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” Hebrews 12:1
The Christian journey is not a 100m sprint or a 1500m track race, it’s a marathon. Just like the one I wrote about in this post. We all have different starting points, we all are at different levels spiritually and we have varied challenges along the way. With all that said, our goal is the same, to do the will of God, to walk by faith and to claim the free gift of salvation promised us at the end.
There will be hurdles, there will be challenges, there will be storms and there will also be sickness. Don’t let these things stop you from completing your journey. Lay aside every sin, anything that hinders you from running. Easier said than done? I know but hear this, there’s more to read in the next verse.
“looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
Focus on Jesus. He ran the race of life in advance so that we have the blueprint. We aren’t running to beat others, it’s not a competition, it’s just a race God wants us to finish. The only way we can do that is by fixing our eyes on Jesus, the one who we can put all our hope and faith in, knowing that because of Him, this marathon is no longer impossible.
Wherever you are in your journey with God, on this race we call life. Keep going. Don’t give up. Don’t look back. Look to Jesus.
What challenges are you currently facing on this season of life? What does God want you to learn from them? Take time to reflect on Hebrews 12:1-2 and ask God to speak to your heart.