I have several friends and acquaintances who run in marathons.  For some unknown reason, they feel inspired, even driven, to train and compete in a 26.2 mile test of endurance.  One friend recently ran the Marine Corps Marathon, through Washington, D.C., and placed first in her division – of women age 60-65!  Her next goal is to run the New York City Marathon in 2011.  I tell her I want to be like her when I grow up… but realistically, a 5K or 10K would be a far more reasonable goal for this body.  She claims I could be a marathoner.  I choose not to.

Training to run a marathon requires a long-term commitment of time and physical energy.   The runner spends months conditioning his body, building up to the race with longer and longer runs, cross-training to strengthen muscles and prevent injury.  When they say yes to the training, they must necessarily say no to other things, at least temporarily.  It becomes a lifestyle choice.

It’s true of any momentous undertaking.  Whether running a race, writing a book, starting a business, fighting cancer, earning a degree, or raising a family – success involves a long-term commitment, sacrifice, and understanding that sometimes we have to say no to other activities, at least for a season.  My husband likes to say that when he said I do to me at our wedding, he said I don’t to every other woman in the world.  And I like to hear him say it!  But he’s right.  It’s a choice on his part (and mine).

Eugene Peterson describes the Christian life as ‘a long obedience in the same direction’, quoting Friedrich Nietzsche. It’s not unlike a marathon – calling upon our deepest reserves of faith and spiritual strength at times.  We must commit ourselves to training, preparation, discipline, and sacrifice, in order to endure.  Saying yes to the Christian life necessitates saying no to things that would hinder or distract us from the goal.  The benefits far outweigh the sacrifices.  It means making a choice.

Paul reminds the Corinthians, “Run to win. All good athletes train hard.  They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.  I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line.  I’m giving it everything I’ve got.  No sloppy living for me!  I’m staying alert and in top condition.  I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.”  1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (MSG)

Lace up those sneakers, my friend!  Let’s keep running.  Together, we can make it across the finish line.

Copyright 2010 – Mary E. Egidio – permission is granted to share this content, but with attribution, and not for commercial purposes.

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