We admire sprinters because they pour every ounce of energy into their brief races. To them, not a fraction of a second can be lost. While time is also important to marathoners, the energy is sustained through the miles. In this way, they endure the pain, in order to discover joy in the long run.
Our courses are set before we begin; but how we run is up to us. If we fall into a ditch, do we stay there until our time runs out? Or, though bruised, do we rise, and press on towards the finish? When weary, do we keep good form, even if our pace slackens? Do we curse the race, or bless it, knowing the pain makes us stronger?
Some run in circles through the barren wastelands. Many emerge from these low places and go on to climb the heights of mountains. There are places of ease and paths of stones. There are places that could overwhelm you, if not for the hope of the finish line.
The finish line is not the end. For those of us whose names have been recorded in the book of the Timekeeper, the finish is when the celebration begins: it is a revelry for all contestants, who have given whole-hearted effort to run well.
Each of us has a race to run.
“(L)et us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b