Sunday, August 2, 2015

Keep Running...A Lesson In Perseverance

Yesterday I ran a 5k race.  I only race once or twice a year these days so I have a hard time gauging the competition.  I stood at the starting line and gazed around, trying to figure out which women, if any, were in my 60+ age bracket.  Finally, I decided I would just make it my goal to go under 30 minutes for the 3.1 mile race.  Two years ago I ran the same course in 28:30 and last year in 30:30.

The race began and I watched people stream around me, jockeying for position.  At the first mile marker I saw I had 9:16--a bit faster than I anticipated.  By the time we hit the turnaround at 1.7 miles I was feeling the pace.  People around me had started to walk.

I was tired and short of breath, but I've felt much worse in races before.  There was no reason I couldn't keep running.  But when I saw those around me start to walk, well...I thought...why not?

I checked my watch and figured I could slow down a lot and still come in under 30 minutes.

So...I stopped and walked for twenty paces, then began to run again.

Somehow, though, stopping once wasn't enough.  Now my body just wanted to keep walking.  My running resolve started to melt away.  Oh, I kept running...but resisting the urge to walk became harder and harder.

So...again I stopped and walked--30 paces this time.

As I worked down that last mile the fight to just keep running got harder and harder.  I gave in to temptation and stopped several more times to walk.  I didn't really need to.  I believe my body could have kept running.  But my mind had lost its will to persevere.

I kept an eye on my watch and walked for the last time just before the 3 mile marker.  Then, with the watching crowd in sight, I decided there would be no more walking and I forced myself to run hard for the finish line--finishing in 29:36.

I was glad to reach my goal but I wondered how the awards for my age group would come out.  I couldn't find any results posted so I waited for the awards ceremony.  I was surprised to win my age group, but the real surprise came that night when I saw the official results posted.

The woman who came in second in our age group was behind me by only 2.5 seconds.  In the picture above you can see her right behind me.   All those times I was walking--only because I'd lost the will to run--my competition was getting closer.  I came within 2.5 seconds of losing that race, and I never knew it.

Now, this was just a silly little 5k race.  The stakes weren't very high.  Losing would not have been a big deal.

But every day I run a race for an eternal prize.  1 Corinthians 9:24 says, "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may win."

How many days do I find myself stopping in the middle of the race, just because I'm tired of running?

The thing is--the stakes can be very high and I may not even realize it.  The phone call I didn't feel like making could have been a game-changer.  The note I neglected to write could have made a difference.  Those precious times when I could have risen earlier to pray might have been pivotal in keeping me running.

God is full of grace and He knows my weakness and is quick to forgive.  And, of course, He calls me to times of rest.  Still, He commands me to "run in such a way that you may win."

Father, keep me running.  Help me to persevere.  Let me realize you've called me to a daily race and keep me focused on the finish line.  By Your grace, and for Your glory, I want to keep running until You tell me the race is over.


  1. Kathy.... This is Ryan Smith from Grady's.... I just read this for the first time. I didn't see this before. Wow.. your words are so powerful and meaningful to me. So many times this year I have wanted to quit. The strain of continuing this mission to bless families when it feels like I am the only one who cares about this. Your words are so timely for me right now even though you wrote this 6 months ago. Thanks for your post and running in the Gradys!!!! We love you are supporting our mission too!!!

    1. Stopping now to pray for you in your very important ministry. The enemy of our souls uses discouragement so often. The struggle is real but God has victory for us.