SHW went to high school with a guy who has gone on to become an ultra-marathoner. He’s one of those crazy people who thought that 26.2 miles of running just wasn’t enough, and so now he regularly participates in races of 50 or 100 miles. We once followed his progress on a 100 mile race that took him well over a day to complete. We woke up and he was already running. Went to church – he was still running. Ate lunch – still running. Took a nap – running. Went to dinner – running. Watched a movie – running. Went to bed – the man was STILL RUNNING!
The human body is not particularly designed to run for 24 hours non-stop. We were designed for the rhythm of day and night; sleep and awake; and so, these events usually include pacers who run only a portion of the race to keep people who are suffering from delirium and exhaustion from doing real damage to themselves. P’s last event wasn’t a race but rather his task was to set the pace for the final 40ish miles. He waited at an aid station until the leaders arrived and ran with them, through the night, as they became increasingly tired. The two leaders ran together every step of the way. When one needed to stop to adjust shoes or take nourishment, the other waited. By the end of the 100 mile ordeal, it didn’t seem right for either on of them to be declared the winner, and so they “ran” across the finish line holding hands. They had survived the journey together, and one succeeded only because of the other.
The life of faith is kind of like an ultra-marathon. It is a long and arduous journey, and if we are blessed to walk it for a while, we too might grow increasingly delirious and exhausted. The author of the letter to the Hebrews reminds his readers and us that for thousands of years, faithful people have walked the same path, but even those who have died have not yet crossed the finish line. Instead, we will all be gifted with the chance to cross over together when as one, we join with Jesus Christ, the firstborn of the dead, comes again to bring about a new heaven and a new earth.
We cannot go about this journey alone. Instead, we are called to take our place alongside those with whom we worship, live, and work as well as those who walk the journey in other places and even other times in running the race that is set before us – a race filled with struggles and hardship as well as joy and laughter. Whether you are Moses, Rahab, Saint Peter or Mother Theresa, this race can only be completed together by the grace of God in Jesus Christ. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like really good news.