Yesterday saw the 119th running of the Boston Marathon, the second after the terrorist bombing that killed several and saw hundreds (200+) injured. The marathon is the pinnacle of a runner's world (those who run marathons), and over 30,000 participated in the event yesterday according to its website. Because of the bombing, security was increased exponentially along the route. The winners ran times that might, I repeat MIGHT, have been the halfway point for me in the few I ran (past tense).
The writer, George Sheehan, was perhaps one of the more gifted writers in my opinion. Sheehan, a doctor, wrote about running specifically, but he wrote of the philosophy of running more so than the technical side. In a speaking engagement at a Unitarian Church once, an audience member said what question would he have at the end of life (he died of cancer a few years after the event in fact). The title of the article in the December 1995 "Runner's World" was his answer. Turning to the altar, he looked up and asked, "Did I win? Is this enough?"
His writing and analysis are fantastic by earthly terms, and they were interesting to me: "I wonder if I've played well enough to win. When Robert Frost was in his 60s, he expressed much the same though: 'I am no longer concerned with good and evil. What concerns me is whether my offering will be acceptable.'" He goes on further with my favorite line in the article: "Life is a handicap event, and a winner may finish deep in the pack. Each one of us has everything we need to be a winner."
"Dr. Sheehan, I'd like to introduce you to Paul," would have been my response. Paul was clearly a man of the world and in 1 Corinthians, we learn of some of his life outside the faith. He clearly enjoyed the Greco-Roman world as he used an Olympic analogy about our journey we call life. "Do you not know that in a race, all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercise self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So, I do not run aimlessly..." (1 Cor 9:24 - 26)
Life is most certainly a handicap event. Paul and Dr. Sheehan acknowledge and use the marathon as the example. A race of attrition as heat, lack of water, poor training, and perhaps a lack of knowing about running in that kind of event can all disqualify you. However, as followers of Christ (and not of Dr. Sheehan), we obtain the imperishable in our journey - salvation. We don't need to turn to the altar and ask Christ, "Did I win?" As he assures us in John 3, "...whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." He provides that victory for us. No offering, only belief.
Pray for that belief daily and share with others to help them on this journey as well.
Hope Men's Ministry