Pushing past Mile 22
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7 (NIV)
In previous blogs, I have talked about running and racing. The above quote has become one of my favorite passages in the Bible. Most runners will tell you that the above verse has inspired them during their training and racing. I feel this verse has gained even more of a special meaning this past year.
While running marathons, the toughest miles one runs can be after mile 22. These are the miles you are getting closer to the end. You have been running for what seems like forever, but you still have a distance to go. You are tired, thirsty and generally contemplating giving up.
In training, a runner is taught tricks to help get through mile 20 and beyond. One trick is to count down the miles. You are more inspired as the number of miles gets lower. Mentally, you do the math and figure how much of a race you have left. You tell yourself on mile 6 it equals a 10k which you have done many times. When you reach 3 miles to go, you tell yourself it is just a 5k to go. (You can do 5k’s in your sleep.)
Another trick is finding a friend to run with. That friend can talk with you through the tough part of those last miles. If you are lucky, you find a topic of discussion that distracts you on how tired and sore you are.
Lastly, you look around at your surroundings. Sometimes you see things that distract you. Other times you see someone with a funny sign that makes you laugh or an especially loud cheerleader. I know of runners who plant friends at certain mile markers to give them that added boost to get through those last tough miles.
We have been in a marathon in a sense during this pandemic. Experts tell us the end is near. Vaccines are happening and we inch closer to herd immunity. Essentially, we are near the end of this trial/race.
Unfortunately, it is mile 23 of this pandemic and we still have a bit more to go. Yes, we are tired of the masks. We do not pay as careful attention, as we once did, to the pandemic updates in the news. We get angry at those who try to help us keep safe by telling us things we do not want to hear. We question the safety procedures put in place by our church, schools and other public places. In summary, we are tired of this pandemic and are ready to be done.
Like the marathon, there are tricks to help get us through this final stretch. First, we can be each other’s cheerleaders. Positivity is contagious. A graceful word, a thoughtful email and a card keep our spirits up. A thankful spirit to all, especially to healthcare workers and essential workers that have kept our nation going, keeps everyone on pace. Lastly, prayer and communication with God, our Father, reminds us that we are never alone.
We are almost on the other side of the pandemic and better days are ahead. I look forward to the finish line and knowing that I have run the good race. I look forward to the day we can all be in the sanctuary together worshiping, but in the meantime, keep the faith.