“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives…to comfort all who mourn…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”
Isaiah 61:1-3, NIV.
The marathon race was my most accomplished physical feat to date. It was also my most challenging exercise ever attempted, twenty-six point two miles from start to finish. As a runner, when my energy level seemed all but exhausted, I experienced the exhilaration of pushing through the desire to stop and give up, and in the end, the joy of how it felt to continue to finish the race. The marathon to which I am referring took place over twenty years ago. Today, just like you, I am running another “race.” It is called life. While I know it is a gift from God to journey through this world, the natural elements associated with being here can challenge the fittest among us. Sickness, broken relationships, and financial downturns are but a few of the possible “potholes” we might encounter along the way.
The nineteenth mile of the marathon was when and where I had to make a decision. Do I finish the race or throw in the towel? I was completely depleted of energy both physically and mentally. But, I remembered the course and how it looked when I had driven it in my car the day before. My only hope for continuing when there was nothing else left, was to stay focused on the end goal which was the finish line. Nothing else mattered; not the errant car that almost hit me, not my aching leg due to a pulled muscle that happened at mile twelve, and not the fact that I was completely alone now on the course, as there were no other runners in sight. Feelings of loneliness, discouragement and despair threatened to overtake me.
Hoping I had not veered off course, in which case I would have been disqualified, I rounded the corner and through tearful eyes saw the masses who had gathered to cheer on the runners as each one crossed over the finish line. The sound of silence I had experienced for so many long miles was broken with shouts of encouragement, whistles and the clapping of hands for a job well done. At that moment, renewed strength poured over me in a way that I had never experienced before. If my legs had failed me, I would have crawled across that beautiful finish line!
Today, with the majority of years of living in the world being behind me, having experienced the farewell to my life mate and childhood love of forty-six years, along with several other losses and challenges, in both body and heart it feels like “mile nineteen.” Can you relate? Sweet reader, God never promised you or me a carefree existence. To the contrary, He told us that we would experience trials and suffering along the way. But, He also said, that in His Son, Jesus Christ, we have already “overcome the world…this is the victory.” 1 John 5:4-5, NIV.
Where are you on the course? Do not be fooled by the silence that suggests you are alone or lost with no hope. The victory has already been won for us by Jesus. If you cannot take another step, trust and know that He will carry you over the finish line!
Mighty God and loving Father, guide and strengthen me now and in the days to come by the power of your love. AMEN