Nehemiah 7-9
Acts 3

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…” —Hebrews 12:1

How many of us enjoy running? The Greek word for “race” is agón, which is where we get the word “agony” from. About 13 years ago, I ran a marathon. At that time, there was one problem—they put the wrong name on my bib. Instead of “Brett,” they put “Allen.” Despite the error, I still wore that bib. The first half of the marathon was a celebration with cheering stations, bands playing and crowds cheering. I was running with a couple colleagues; we were feeling strong, high fiving people along the way. As I ran by, people would cheer, “Come on, Allen! You’ve got this!”
Eventually, we got to the halfway turning point and the half marathoners were done. But the rest of the marathoners had to run another half marathon. At this point, the race got real. All of a sudden, there were no cheering stations, fanfares or high fives. At this point, people started to realize how tired their bodies were and some just collapsed on the side of the road. My colleagues and I started to walk, but as our bodies started to break up, some of us would continue and others could not.
There was a point where running turned into walking and then barely moving. I just wanted to lie down and cry, “Medic, please heal me” but I kept moving. As I approached the bridge, a woman came up to my face and started to yell, “Come on Allen! You’ve got this!” Although she meant well, she only amplified the pain that I was in.
After I crossed the bridge, there was a large crowd—the finish line was close. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an individual walking towards me. It was my father. I grew up running with my dad; he ran many marathons. He put his arm around me and I broke down crying. He said, “Brett, I know that pain you are in.” I was crying because for 41 km nobody knew my name, but he did. Then, he coached me towards the finish line. Once I got up close to the finish line, I felt a surge of energy and started to sprint towards the finish line.
Running with perseverance does not always mean we have it all together. Sometimes running with perseverance is barely putting one foot in front of the other, but choosing not to give up. When our strength is about to fail, our Heavenly Father who knows our name comes to us in the midst of our pain, puts His arm around us and says, “You can finish the course. I know you are in agony but I am with you.”
Father God, thank You that in this marathon of life, You are with me each step of the way. Even if I am barely putting one foot in front of the other, I know it is by Your strength that I can finish the course.

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