Long Distance Running

My brother is an ultra-marathon runner.  All I can say to this is, “who came up with the idea anyway?”  Just the name of this sport is an indicator of suffering.  Hey, let’s take the title of the most grueling running race in history and add the word “ultra.”  It’s like telling your dentist you want the extra invasive root canal.

From what I understand, an ultra marathon goes something like this: lace up your shoes, stash a few Power Bars somewhere on yourself, and… well… start running. –Fast–forward–seven–hours–or–more–>  After traveling 50+ miles using nothing more than foot-power, you finally allow your body to return to a state of normality.  Amazingly, this is regarded as a great day in ultra-m circles — and I know you’re all marking your calendar right now for the next race in your area!

I actually have great admiration for long distance runners (LDRs).  They have a passion to run.  It energizes them.  They enjoy it.  They don’t feel right if they don’t get to run, and it fuels the rest of their day.  Meanwhile, us minimal-range-joggers (MRJs) may do an occasional mile to neutralize an ill-advised drive-thru lunch, but for most of us it’s hardly an activity we look forward to.  Interestingly, if you were to stop a LDR mid-run, you’d likely experience a normal, pleasant conversation.  Stop a MRJ during a short jaunt and it’s an entirely different story.  Between Darth Vadian gasps for air, the dialog is often characterized by breathless bursts of, “I hate this…” or, “this is killing me…”  And when they’ve completed their token run, they usually offer themselves a hefty grace period before any further activity is required.

Over the years I’ve heard many people talk about how Christians are to “run the race with perseverance and endurance” (Hebrews 12:1), but I haven’t heard as many thoughts about the attitude we should maintain in the process.  The outlook of the LDR is an amazing model for us.  They never settle for a small challenge, or give a token effort.  They don’t wear out quickly, or have the mindset that they can’t wait until it’s over.  They never stop half-way through and gripe about the task in front of them.  They endure far beyond the norm, and persevere with passion.  Complaining about the considerable time and energy involved is unheard of, and it’s never a justification to quit.  They love what they do, and look forward to their next chance to participate.

Do we strive to follow the model of the long distance runner in our spiritual lives?  Are we ultra-marathoners for the Lord?

2 Corinthians 5:9 — So we make it our goal to please Him…

– Ron Reid