As a competitive runner, we only have one thing in mind… to win races! We will do anything and everything to complete the race to the best of our ability. We choose the right food, make sure we get adequate sleep, train, cross-train, study, strength train, stretch, and of course run. No matter what we have going on in our lives, we make conscience and sub-conscience decisions based on how it will effect our upcoming races. We schedule runs and plan our lives accordingly.
In life we should be doing the same thing. Our race is predetermined by God and we have no choice when it is over, but we have the choice of how we run, how we prepare and how we train. As Christians, our reward is grand! And the great thing about it is we get to choose which and how many rewards, crowns and trophies we receive at the end of our race! The only problem is, most of us do not train to receive these rewards. We do not want to go through the turmoil and sweat to obtain them. As each day passes, we consciencely and sub-consciencely chose to live in the moment and enjoy the pleasures of the world. (See Matthew 16:27)
I’ll give you a short story as an example.
The day had finally come! Rachel jumped out of bed excited for the big race. She had been looking forward to this day for months. Before winter snow started falling, she knew she would be signing up for her first marathon in the spring, so she began training. She scarfed down a bowl of Cheerios and ran out the door. After stopping at the coffee shop for a scrumptious muffin and latte, she pulled into the parking lot where she was to check-in.
Across town, Tony also was excited about today’s race. He too had been training over the winter for this marathon. It was supposed to be where only the best athletes competed and he felt a slight pang of anxiousness start to creep in his mind. After running for only three years competing in 5 and 10Ks he was wondering if his first marathon should have been postponed to a more neutral run. He knew his at home runs were good, his paces and recoveries great, but we’re they good enough to compete against some of the best?
After the two checked in and received their bibs, they walked to the start and finish line.
Rachel’s face was beaming with anticipation and she felt very confident in her ability to run this race. After all she had run over a hundred miles last week, she should be able to easily run 26 miles in a day.
“You look excited.” Tony commented to the lady standing beside him.
Rachel jumped at the interruption in her thoughts. “Of course I am! Are you not?”
Tony took a deep breath and smiled, “Yes, I am excited. But this is my first marathon ever and I’m feeling a little anxious. I’ve only ran a straight 23 miler and the weather was perfect that day. My ankle was bothering me last week and I didn’t get much running in.” Tony laughed before shaking his head. “I shouldn’t be thinking of that though. I really came over here to imagine how it would be when I got to the finish line, as I stretched and warmed up.”
Rachel stuck her hand out and replied, “Well, my name is Rachel Slaughburd, this is my first marathon as well. I ran over a hundred miles last week and feel great! May the best win!”
“I’m Tony Nickle,” he answered as they shook hands. He wondered what he had gotten himself into but determined to look past that and focus on the finish line and nothing else.
“I must go finish my breakfast now, we only have thirty minutes till the race starts. I’ll leave you to your meditation.” Rachel turned to go but stopped and looked at Tony confused. “Why do you stretch?”
Tony raised his eyebrows and asked, “You ran a hundred miles last week and didn’t stretch?”
“No, should I?”
Tony shook his head in disbelief. “Of course. How did you run all those miles and not get cramps?”
“Oh, well that’s easy.” With that Rachel trotted off.
Four hours later, Tony crossed the finish line, never catching a glimpse of Rachel. He figured she must have finished already and headed to the awning for a drink. Upon returning to the finish line to watch the last runners, he noticed Rachel. It had been over an hour since he finished and he wondered if she had pushed herself to hard in the beginning.
“Hey, how did it go?” He asked as they met.
Rachel looked up at him and he realized she had been crying… A lot. “It went terrible! I had no idea what I was getting myself into! I didn’t know you had to run all 26 miles at one time.” She wiped her face on her shirt, trying to remove the sweat and tears.
Tony looked at her confused wondering what happened. “I thought you trained all winter for this?”
“I did,” she replied. “I ran three miles everyday! And last week I ran over three miles twice a day. Shouldn’t that have been enough?”-2019 (c)
Unless a person knows what life has in store for them, how can they properly train for it? In the story, Tony goes on to explain to Rachel the different aspects of training she left out. Nutrition, Mental Training, More miles at a time, stretching, etc. Jesus tells us in the Bible what we are to expect as a follower of Him. Persecution, trials, temptations, hardships, etc. But He also tells us how to prepare and handle each one that comes along, such as prayer, scripture memory and meditation, trust in God, Bible reading, etc. (See 1 Peter 5:10 and John 16:33)
Are we willing to train for it?