I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back. (The Message)
In October my husband and I completed the full marathon (42.2k). It was quite the journey that brought us to the finish line. I would like to share a bit of that journey with you and the above passage from Philippians talks about keeping your on the goal and the more familiar translation refers to it as “pressing on”. Believe me, in order for us to cross that finish line, we did a lot of pressing on.
First of all, we are not what you would call “athletes”. We are just two people who had an idea. OK, truth be told, one person with an idea and the other person is the most supportive helpmate you could ask for who decided to keep me company for the journey. The marathon became a spiritual and emotional journey for us. Paul compares our life journey as a runner who is running the race to the finish.
For me, I knew that the marathon would be a test of endurance. What I didn’t know was the obstacles or challenges that would happen on the way. I didn’t know that I would have a fall before the marathon even began. Two weeks before the race, I missed a step and fell and sprained my ankle. Many people said, “you are NOT going to do this marathon”. The doctor at the clinic said, “there will be other marathons”. The voice inside me didn’t let go so I limped off to a sports doctor to get intense therapy on my ankle.
On the day of the race, we met at 6:30 AM with about 200 other people. It was still dark but the energy was high. It was a perfect day for the race. It was not raining and it was not windy as the weather forecasts had predicted. It was just right. We did experience physical challenges on the way but we knew that the physical pain we endured was temporary so we pressed on. The race for us symbolized the journey that many of our friends and family are doing with daily struggles.
Along the way, we met many encouragers that were our “cloud of witnesses”. Some were our friends but others we did not know just as in our journey of life many people can encourage us where we are. At one “cheering station” someone had a sign that read “your mama would be proud of you”. I yelled back that I was doing this for my mama … You see my mama is on her own journey with dementia and we were raising funds for her care facility in our marathon. For me, it was all about how dementia doesn't just affect mom or even me but it affect our whole family so it meant a great deal to me that I was doing this with my husband. All of us have our journeys and there will be challenges along the way, things that are beyond our control and sometimes all we can do is concentrate on one step at a time but one step at a time will get us to the finish line.
I have already used this experience in ministry as I have sat with people who are palliative and shared with the them what it was like to round that last corner and see the finish line that at times I wasn’t at all sure we would see. There is nothing like that feeling. In the spiritual sense, as we come to the finish line there will be a “great cloud of witnesses” cheering us on. What a finish that will be!!!
So I join with Paul in saying, “I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.”