Moving Ahead Is A Choice
I was listening to Rick Warren’s teaching today called “The Growth Choice“. As I listened to it, I couldn’t help think about how true that title is in every area of our lives. Growth is a choice. We can choose to grow in head knowledge, we can choose to grow in our marriage, we can choose to grow our waistline, we can choose to grow our muscles, etc. What grows in our life is what we choose to spend time feeding and nurturing.
Of course, he was talking about our spiritual and personal growth, but as he spoke on the choice to grow he brought out a really great point using the analogy of a marathon.
Running the Race
There is a huge amount of excitement before everyone steps across the start line. People have been talking about this day for a long time. They’ve been training, planning and even eating for this day. There is a lot of thought that goes into this – from the people who are putting the race on to the people who are running in it.
The day of the race, there is normally a huge crowd cheering everyone on. The air is full of excitement, energy, positivity, music and support all around. The runner is fresh, well-rested, clean, pumped and ready. The first few steps will be full of life, energy and great expectations.
However, the finish line looks a lot different. The people are tired of waiting. The crowd has diminished. People are often hungry, tired, impatient, emotionally drained, bored and ready to leave.
The runner is even worse. The runner is sweaty, stinky, exhausted, hurting, hungry, drained, dehydrated and maybe even scraped up from a fall. It takes everything out of them to drag their butt across that finish line. Their body is heavy and numb with fatigue. What isn’t numb is filled with pain. Burning, throbbing legs and dizziness can leave them longing just to hit the nearest grassy patch as soon as they cross the line and rest. They are often looking around for someone they know to meet them at the end. However, for many, they cross the finish line alone.
In between the start and the finish line, is a loooooooooooooooong hard lonely road. The runner is being passed by more athletic experienced runners. They have many miles to wonder what in the world they are doing, to doubt their ability, and to think of stopping – or at least slowing down.
Unlike the start of the race, it is quiet. The only cheers they may here now may be from a handful of volunteers manning the occasional water station. But, even their cheers are weak and not as heartfelt as they started. All in all, it’s a much different scene.
The sound of their feet pounding the pavement reminds them of how slow they are going and how many more steps it will take to finish what they started.
There is no one around them to encourage them. There is no song in the world that will make their feet feel lighter or their heart pound less. It’s during this long lonely part of the run that the only thing the runner can do is just focus on finishing.
The Long Road
Isn’t that how life is? Isn’t that how marriage is? There is so much support at the beginning. For marriage, there is the exciting wedding day with all the people around you showing their support. Then the couple faces hardships and the pool of people dwindles like the crowd at the marathon. If they stick it out, they will be like this older couple in this picture I snuck on one of my runs – hand in hand. Crossing the finish line together. They get the gold medal.
How about dieting? Sure, everyone is so supportive when you start out. The spouse is helping you food prep or being respectful about eating sweets around you. Co-workers act proud of you – until they want someone to go to lunch with and realize your healthy eating is getting in the way of their fun.
Sure, everyone was supportive when it was fresh and new, but now that you hit the long hard road, like the marathon, people are tired, bored, less patient and tired of waiting for your results as much as you are. By the time you reach the weight loss finish line, there are few people there to celebrate your success.
As I reflect on this analogy, it brings me to this. Everyone will succeed if you just simply finish what you started. You can’t rely on the cheering crowd, your trainer, your friend’s support or motivation. You must expect the road to be long hard and lonely. But, you just have to focus on the finish line – because IF you do, you WILL cross it.
Once you look back, you will realize the once seemingly long road, was much shorter as you look back. 8 months of dieting is a blink of an eye compared to a lifetime of being overweight and unhealthy.
If you are on that long lonely part of your run in life, keep trucking. Because, you are headed in the right direction!
You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? Galatians 5:7
Oftentimes scripture uses the analogy of running a race to compare our walk with the Lord. Many times the person who hinders you from finishing what you started is your own self. And, sadly, we often quit or slow down when we were really running well.
Let’s not let that be us. Let’s not let others, circumstances, doubts, fatigue, excuses or anything hinder us. Let’s finish what we started.