I recently participated in a half-marathon. Well... sort of. My son-in-law was the one running, and my job was to be the driver and encourager. It was a great experience, and I think I did pretty well for a first-timer.
THE START AND FINISH LINES
At the starting line, a man stood with a microphone to announce, "On your mark, get set, go!" as he did his best to whip the crowd into a frenzy of yelling and cheering for the runners. The crowd of fans stretched as far as the eye could see, and as the runners finally finished the race, their loud cheering was all that could be heard. I did my part and congratulated my son-in-law on how well he had done. It had to feel good to receive so much encouragement!
LIFE IS A MARATHON
Life is like a marathon. When we begin something, people cheer us on, and we feel encouraged. Later, when we cross the "finish line,” we are congratulated. The problem lies in the long distance between start and finish. The start is easy, and if you get to the finish line, you may get a burst of energy you didn't know you had to carry you through. The hard part, however, is the long middle section when you are tired and hurting, and the end seems nowhere in sight.
When we begin this marathon called the “Christian life,” everything is new and exciting, and a lot of people cheer us on; but, the further along we are on the journey, the greater the risk of discouragement. Sometimes, the daily walk of faith becomes routine, while other times, the path is difficult and perplexing. Sometimes we feel uncertain and alone, asking many questions but receiving no answers. We can become overwhelmed with doubt, fear, temptation, or attacks. During these times, it can be hard to remember the power we felt at the beginning of our race, and it may become difficult to see an end to our struggles.
Our marathon had groups of volunteers stationed at various intervals along the race route. They were there to give nourishment and refreshment to racers while encouraging them on their way. I couldn’t help but think of those volunteers as participants in the race, too. They may not have been racing, but they were helping others finish strong. Who knows how many runners may have dropped out along the way if not for the water, energy bars, or words of encouragement from the volunteers.
I am even more convinced this is true in life. The ministry of encouragement is powerful, life-giving, and necessary. It refreshes, nourishes, and empowers us. Encouragement enables us to keep going when we are tired or hurting, and overcome when the obstacles seem too great.
So, this week, let me encourage YOU to push on and run the race well. Eternal reward awaits at the finish line.
by Jimmy Aycock