At school, which was quite a long time ago now, one of the things I was best at, maybe had a little talent for, was running. I was especially good at sprinting and thought I was the best! Until of course one day, I was beaten by someone who was much better than me, and it was clear that whatever amount of training I might have decided to do, I would never beat him. I had to learn one of my first bigger lessons in life, of the need to be gracious in defeat and humble, as there will always be someone more talented!
Sprinting is fun and perhaps the most glamourous of the Olympic running races, a ‘blue ribbon’ event as they call it, but is it the most effective type of running to cover the most distance over time? Is it the best kind of running for every age and stage of life when you are older as well as younger? These days I am not doing any running, but sticking to walking, cycling and golf……walking whilst hitting a little white ball!
To apply the analogy of running, a good question to ask is what kind of running approach do you have to life:
Are you always running fast in lots of short bursts – you sprint at everything you do in a whirlwind of activities?
Are you someone who runs at more of a medium pace and one race after the other – you run pretty hard for much of the time going from one major activity or project to the next?
Or are you more of a marathon runner – you do like to run, but more at a pace that is sustainable and will help you cover as much distance in life as possible?
When it comes to what we need to do in life, I am sure that there is a right time and place for each kind of running: to be sprinting where we need to get something done quickly; and sometimes, to be focusing on going quite fast and from one project to the next. However, much as marathons were my least favourite form of running (I did 3 and no more!) the analogy of long distance running seems to be the most helpful to keep in mind for life. Life is long and most of the time requires perseverance and time to achieve the things that are really valuable and worthwhile.
In the bible, ongoing physical exercise and longer distance running are mentioned quite often as pictures of how we should approach life:
“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance.” 1 Tim 4v8
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Tim 4v7-8
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12v1-3
In life, and especially in the times we are in which requires perseverance, these bible verses are I think really helpful to help us keep running in life, to know that there is hope ahead and a prize at the end for all who trust in God.
With my prayers for February as we all help and encourage each other to keep going
Revd James – Rector St Peter’s and Blessed Mary
28th January 2021