Everyone knows the name Usain Bolt, winner of the 100 meter dash at the 2008 games and given the name the fastest man in the world. Does anyone know the name of the man who won the Marathon? I had to look up his name, which is interesting because the marathon race is the crowning Glory of the Olympic Games. The very last thing to happen before the closing ceremonies is the end of the Men’s Marathon and the medal ceremony. I thought it was interesting that I had no idea who that man was that ran 26.2 miles, but could tell you the name of the man who ran 100 meters. If you’re wondering the winner of the Men’s Marathon is Samuel Kamau Wanjiru. That brings me to my next topic which is endurance.
I don’t want to take anything away from Usain. What he did was absolutely incredible. But when I think about what Samuel did, how he was able to win a grueling race that was over 26 miles long is awe inspiring. This is a race so strenuous it the first person that ran it died. This is the type of race we are running. We are in a sense dying to self when we are at the starting line of faith. This race has it’s joy’s and victories, but there are also challenges and pain. I’m sure there are times Samuel wanted to give up but something inside him told him to keep pressing forward.
I once ran in a 5k race called the race for Champions for the American Heart Association. It was my first and only race to date. As I was running there were people on the sidelines saying encouraging words. There were times I wanted to give up, but when I heard those words I would instantly become fired up and continue to run. My legs started to ache but I heard those words. I was not the best runner by a long shot. As a matter of fact, I came in dead last. I was probably 10 minutes behind the person in front of me. What surprised me was that when I finally crossed the finish line, none of the crowd had gone home. Everyone was waiting for me, and they cheered for me as if I had won the race. They were excited that I had finished. I broke into tears. This is what it must feel like when you get to heaven.
There are times, however, when you feel alone. You can even be in a room full of people and still feel no one knows the cries of your heart. You may look around and you are running the race by yourself. I once read an article in the Wall Street Journal about Ultra Marathon Runners, people who aren’t dependent on the cheers from the crowds but run marathons many times by themselves through deserts and jungles alone. When I lost my job and then my life completely unraveled, one of the things I thought was that this was my midnight Marathon. This poem is a result of the that experience.
The Midnight Marathon
Sometimes in Life you can find yourself in a Midnight Marathon
In a desert
as worn down shoes turn sand into daggers
yielding pools of blood to reflect the moonlit sky
you begin to fight battles with loneliness
pulling you down roads you never thought you’d Go
wanting to compromise to fit in to belong
waves of selfishness come to deepen the chasm
the mind forms a mirage to anesthetize itself from truth
tears in the night, the cries of a broken heart
know that God is near to the hurting
he saves, heals, and binds up wounds
as you continue to put one foot in front of the other
and endure to the end
you will receive the embrace of dawn
from the new rays on the horizon.
When you enter these seasons where it feels like you can’t find your way, like you are running at midnight and can’t see three feet in front of your face, that is the time to buckle down and press into God all the more.You may not be able to see God or sense his presence, but he is right there running the race with you. This is time to enter into the worship battle strategy I spoke of last week. You need to know that if the enemy can’t take you out he will try to wear you out to take away your effectiveness. He is sitting there waiting for trials to happen so he can keep you in discouragement. These painful times are the times to lift your hands in Worship. When you are in pain and pressed from every side let worship pour forth from your soul. Psalm 42:5-7 shows David encouraging himself. I also included these scriptures that encourage me to keep going.
1 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. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. ( Hebrews 12:1-3)
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Phil 3: 12:-14)
There is something about music and what it does to the soul. so I will continue to include songs with my emails. This week I am including one of my favorite worship songs, Not the Time or The Place by Rev. Marvin Sapp some of the lyrics are: This is not the place for giving up/ this is not the place where you should be/This is not the time or place to lie in defeat /you got to hold on you got to be strong!
I could hardly get this email out as I have been listening to this song the whole time!!!
Keep running your race and don’t give up!!