In less than two weeks, many members of the Calvary Running Team will be participating in the Pacific Northwest Marathon, Half Marathon or 5K. At last count there are over a dozen of us registered for one of the races. As the day approaches, I've been thinking more often about the last couple of long races I ran.
There are two common themes in each of the races as I remember back. First, while the intensity fades over time, nothing can erase the memory of muscles cramping, feet aching and sweat stinging my eyes in the later miles. If it was easy everyone would do it, right? But alongside the recollection of physical discomfort are the brighter memories of those whom I have encouraged or been encouraged by along the way and the sense of accomplishment at the end, the realization of a goal. Remembering has caused me to think about why I do this.
It's not about winning, that role is reserved for someone much younger and better conditioned than I. And it's really not about fitness because I can get or stay fit without running a long distance or entering a race. For me, entering a long race is about setting a goal and reaching it, about challenging myself and others, about the opportunity to encourage others, about reaching the end of my strength and continuing on, about learning the discipline of pushing through pain, about reaping the benefits of preparing well. In a nutshell, entering a long race helps to remind me that "difficult" doesn't equal "bad".
This lesson is so important because it applies to the rest of our life and how we view the challenges and difficulties we face daily. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:28 " And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Think of all the examples in scripture where God redeemed a situation that seemed terrible and in the end it turned out well. Joseph was sold into slavery, falsely accused, thrown into prison and in the end, God orchestrated a miraculous comeback that found Joseph in the second most powerful position in all of Egypt.
As much as we try to avoid them, it turns out that God uses trials to build our faith in the same way we use long training runs to build endurance. In James 1:2-4 we are told to "consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
If you aren't already signed up for one of the PNW races, consider joining us as we represent the Calvary Running Team. We still have a few more opportunities to train and prepare. This week all of our training runs will be at Clearwater Trail. We will meet on Wednesday at noon, on Saturday at 8 am and on Sunday at 5 pm.