…not a sprint.
Running a marathon has turned into a vitally important part of my life. And not just because the process of running a marathon is what eventually led me to rebuild my relationship with God. But that’s a story for another time.
Our spiritual walk is a lot like running a marathon. Maybe you’ve never ran a marathon before…so let me help you out here.
A marathon is 26.2 miles. The only distance of a race that can be classified a marathon is 26.2 miles. That’s a really long dadgum race to run. And a lot can take place during that run.
Our own spiritual walk can parallel a marathon as well.
Roll with me on this one.
First of all, all of the training, and all of the preparation is something that you must do yourself. No one can do it for you. In order to be successful, you must do the training yourself. I’m not saying that you can’t have help along the way. But you must put in the work to receive the reward at the end. And from personal experience, you can put in varying degrees of effort during your training. But also know, the more you slack during training, the more painful parts of the race will be. Hello, consequences.
At the beginning of the marathon, there is a lot of fanfare, fireworks, music, etc. Big things are happening! At the moment you cross the start line, there is so much adrenaline pumping through your body that you are positive that you are going to fly through those 26.2 miles! And in our own spiritual walk, maybe not at the beginning of your walk with God, but maybe even at the beginning of a new chapter with your walk, there is excitement. You feel God like you have never felt Him before. There is this big new plan for God to guide you through. And you are excited!! This is going to be AWESOME!!!
But then, that second step, though.
For me, running a marathon, my wall has always come very early. Like, mile 2 early. You’ve heard about this before, right? That brick wall you metaphorically run into, and everything is awful and terrible and there is absolutely no possible way that you can carry on and this is absolutely the dumbest thing you have ever done. Yeah, I hit that before mile 2. During a 26.2 miles race.
Because, once you get past all of the fanfare at the beginning, reality starts to set in. Holy guacamole, you are running a really long distance. The spiritual walk can be the same way. You can wake up one day, not long after you feel this call from God, and the reality of your life completely changing can overwhelm you. Overwhelm you to the point that you absolutely cannot go on. This is absolutely the dumbest thing you have ever done.
It is at this point that some people just give in. They quit. It happens all the time.
But what happens if you don’t quit?
You keep moving forward. You keep putting one foot in front of the other. And you push past that wall. You realize that yes, you do still have a long way to go. But it’s ok. You. Can. Do. It.
During the race, there will be times that you run with people. You talk, and pass the time. And it makes that part of the race a little easier. Other times, you will feel completely alone. You have no one to talk to. No one to support you. Or so it feels. So you’re just out there, all alone. Running. There are times where there is a big crowd cheering you on. Everyone shouting, and cheering and supporting you. Even if they don’t know you. And life is so amazing, you feel like a rock star. But then you keep moving forward, and the crowd thins out, and there isn’t any cheering. And you definitely don’t feel like a rock star anymore.
But still, you keep moving forward.
Mile marker after mile marker after mile marker are now behind you.
And all of a sudden, there it is. Mile marker 26. You have .2 miles to go!
There is a crowd. And you can see the finish line. And you can see the people handing out the medals. And right behind them, oh thank goodness you see the med tent full of ice packs!!
And just like that. You just ran a marathon.
Our spiritual walk can be tough at times. You will meet people along the way that will support you. And you will also meet people along the way that are going to try to get you to stray away from your goal. Sometimes you will feel so supported that you just know there is no way that you can fail. Then other times that you feel so alone that you might as well just quit.
Some people are faster than you. Some people are slower than you. Some are stronger. Some are weaker. No matter what, you can support people along the way.
But one thing finally hit me about running a marathon. You might be running this race by yourself. But you are not running this race alone.
There are other people on the very same journey that you are on. It’s going to look different for everyone. But we are all running a race.
Just. Don’t. Quit. You got this.