I’m not sure where you are this Monday. You might still be cozied up on the couch with a cup of coffee, enjoying the day off work. Maybe you were up and at it this morning, excited and refreshed to start a new week. Maybe your biggest accomplishment so far today was getting out of bed. Maybe you’re spending the day surrounded by your children, or sitting in a cubicle.
Wherever you are, can I offer a quick word of encouragement?
A few weeks ago, I ran a half marathon with my sister-in-law and father-in-law. As is inevitable when I’m running for a while, I began pondering the metaphors between running and life. I’m sure you’ve heard some of these references before, people referring to “the race of life.” It can sound trite or cheesy, but anyone who has ever run long distances will tell you, there are undeniable similarities. Life is truly more of a marathon than a sprint. It requires perseverance, faith, discipline, strength and people to run and cheer alongside you. There are the first few miles when you’re just starting out, and you feel excited and strong. Nothing can stop you. The middle is tough – you’ve been through uphill battles and your legs are getting tired. It becomes hard to keep yourself going when the finish line is still nowhere in sight. And then there’s the end, the last push, the willing your legs to keep moving because you believe deep down it will all be worth it when you cross the finish line.
That last part? About it all being worth it? It’s so true. When you’ve done it, when you’ve finished, all the pain, training, and hardship you endured to get there fades, and is replaced with relief, joy, and thankfulness.
After we finished, I found myself overwhelmed with pride – for myself, and for my sister-in-law and father-in-law. I was proud of us. We fought through adversity, encouraged each other along the way, and didn’t give up. It’s no small thing to finish the race.
Yesterday, I found myself at a race again – only this time, I was the spectator. Our friend Ryan was running his first marathon and attempting to qualify for next year’s Boston Marathon with a time of around three hours (in case you’re doing the math, that’s really really fast).
A group of his family and friends spread out across the 26.2 mile course, stationing ourselves at key points to offer encouragement and energy packets.
The Austin Marathon is tough. The weather is unpredictable, and the hills are brutal. It’s grueling, mentally and physically. Having recently run a half marathon, the difficulty of a full marathon was magnified to me. As we watched Ryan run, I had the overwhelming feeling that we were watching something really special. Ryan was made to run, and he was running with all he had.
As he crossed the finish line at the three hour mark, my eyes welled up with tears and I was overwhelmed with pride – the same type of pride I felt after finishing the half marathon. He ran his race well, persevered through adversity, and finished. All of the training, all the hard days, all the energy he put into those 26.2 miles was worth it. He finished the race.
Later in the afternoon, I found myself pondering my similar reactions to people I love finishing a race. Where was this overwhelming sense of pride coming from? Yes, finishing a half and full marathon is something to be proud of. It’s a significant accomplishment, no doubt. But, I’d watched races before and didn’t experience this type of affection and pride.
And then I felt a nudge from the Father:
“How you feel right now toward people you love is just a taste of how I feel toward you. As I watch you run your race, I’m so proud of you.”
And it hit me – if I, as a broken human being, can feel such pride watching my friends run their races well, how much more so does my Heavenly Father, the One who created me and knows my innermost being, feel pride and loving affection toward me as I persevere through this life?
So, no matter where you are in your race today, hear this:
Keep running. Press on toward the goal. It’s not in vain.
Your Father sees you.
He knows you.
And He’s so incredibly proud of you.