Run to win the prize image

Guest Poster Bill Sims in action with daughter Rebekah

 

I Chose to Run

Years ago, I ran my first marathon; the Country Music Marathon in Nashville. I wish I could explain the feeling of finally crossing the finish line after many months and seemingly innumerable hours of training. It didn’t matter to me that my knee completely went out on me at the 11 mile mark. It didn’t matter that I finished a whole hour longer than I had planned. At that point, it just mattered that I finished.

My knee trouble didn’t appear before that day, so it was a mystery when it started tightening up around mile 6. By the split where marathon runners went one way, and half-marathoners went the other, I could hardly walk. The more I stretched, the worse it got. The conflict inside my mind and heart grew with every painful step. I finally told my running buddy, “You better go on, I don’t know that I will be able to finish.” Reluctantly, he went ahead with best wishes after he spared a couple of his Advils.

Think about it. You plug away, working tirelessly toward a seemingly unattainable goal. You build yourself up with expectation for the big day when your long, laborious hours of preparation will finally be tested, only to be sitting on a curb less than half way to the finish line deciding how you are going to explain your failure.

That’s exactly where I sat. Right there at mile 11, watching the other runners happily jog by toward their long anticipated goal. I told the Lord, “If you have something to teach me in this, I will accept that, but I REALLY do want to finish this race.”

Then something clicked. I got up and started hobbling forward, pain with every step, wondering how in the world I was going to make it another 15.2 miles. I sped up slowly. My knee loosened up. I felt deep down, “If you can make it to 18 miles, you’ve got this.” I was given the determination to finish, no matter what it took. At that point, I would have crawled to the finish line if necessary.

Next thing I knew, I crossed the finish line. I hadn’t reached it in the exact way I expected, nor in the time I had predicted. Nevertheless, I finished. A little sore, a little beaten, a lot hungry, even more thirsty, and absolutely ecstatic.

The interesting thing is, the Lord did use this experience to teach me a lesson. Thankfully, it was a much different lesson than I thought I was going to learn.

There have been times in the past when I have completely felt like giving up. Just like mile 11, I was precariously close to turning around, finding the medical tent, and hitching a ride off the course. So, who said life would be without pain, or stress, or life’s unpredictable difficulties? Only those who live in some alternate reality. Sometimes you just have to push through. You don’t know how long the pain is going to last. You have no clue what the journey will look like. You just know that you have to keep going and trust that it is all for your best. (Rom 8:28) You have to finish strong.

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” (1 Cor. 9:24, NKJV)

I want to run to win the prize. There’s no way I’ll ever win the prize for the marathon, but there is an eternal prize to obtain. Should I put in any less training, or have any less determination in the spiritual realm than on the race course? The lesson I learned that day is that giving up is just not an option. I simply can’t give up on the Man who has never given up on me.

Guest Post by: Bill Sims

Host’s Note: ¬†My sincere thanks to Bill Sims this article¬†– Bill is a great friend, a Godly man, and suffers a long-term addiction to distance running. Let Bill feel the love with a comment or two below – Are you facing “continue or quit” choices in your life like Bill did?

Jeff McKinney
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Jeff McKinney

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