The news this morning (Tuesday, April 19) was full of stories about the Boston Marathon. The Boston Marathon is the mecca for serious runners who compete in marathons, so it is a news event among the faithful. However, the Boston Marathon has become newsworthy for average joes like most of us because of the heinous attack on a "soft target," runners and fans gathered at the finish line. Suddenly, the entire country focused on Boston after the attack.
Monday, then, focused on the human interest side of the 26.2 mile run which included two people who lost legs in the bombing, one a runner and one not. Yet, despite the fact they lost their legs two years ago, both committed to finishing the marathon, and miraculously, both did. Let's underscore this accomplishment: you train about four months if you are a runner in good shape to complete a marathon under a certain time (marathoners who run more than a couple a year are in constant shape). To lose a leg to terror, rehab learning to cope with the loss, rehab to learn to use the new prosthetic and then commit to training for a marathon is inspiring. To then actually complete it? Speechless. Really, a hard knot or lump in the throat moment.
This man and woman possessed the focus of a runner, determined to push themselves and their bodies past a logical point to true endurance, and yet they had to drive past a potentially handicapping condition as well to get to the point to run a race of endurance. As George Sheehan once wrote, "Sometimes the winner is deep in the pack."
Life, however, is a full-contact sport and all of us, at the end of the finish line, are afflicted by a multitude of conditions, all of which are potentially handicapping. Paul says it this way, "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 exercises self control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others, I myself should be qualified." (1 Corinthians 9:24 - 27) Like runners, the writer of Hebrews notes, "It is discipline you have to endure." (Hebrews 12:7)
We pray a prayer of praise for people who inspire us, like these two, who refused to be sidelined. We pray that we discipline ourselves to focus on that "imperishable wreath" given to us by God (salvation through Christ). We pray we discipline ourselves in this endurance race God has set before us, each of us running in our own metaphorical marathons, and we pray that God give us the endurance to complete this race through His Holy Spirit, who gives us our faith and strengthens and renews our faith.
Hope Men's Ministry