Founder and Finisher

We’re walking, just getting started on the warm-up for today’s run. My app tells me that somehow the kids and I are supposed to run twenty minutes straight today.

Last time we ran, we did eight minutes, then we walked for five, and then we ran for another eight. By the end I felt like I couldn’t take another step. I almost didn’t make it. It was only the kids running with me, and my understanding that if I gave up so would they, that kept me putting a step in front of another, breathing in and out.

Art and I are walking together, but we won’t run together. He’s faster than I am, and it won’t take him long to pass me and get well ahead. He’s doing thirty minutes today.

“I just honestly don’t feel like there is any possible way I can run for twenty minutes without a break,” I tell him.

“I felt that way too, when I first did twenty minutes,” he answers, “but I was surprised at how much easier it was than I expected.”

“I know. That’s the only reason I’m even trying it.”

It’s true. Knowing he felt unready, knowing he was able to do it, knowing he has passed this way before, all the way to the end of the eight week training program– that strengthens my resolve. To try.

I can’t help but think about Jesus and my walk with Him as I begin my jog. The encouragement I take from Art’s going this way before is the same encouragement I can take from Christ, for He too has passed this way, and won.

He does not throw me into a race and then wonder hmmm, is that even possible? He knows what it is to run the race, to endure the cross, to keep going for the joy of the finish line and His Father’s face. He knows what it is to endure and to press forward. He knows what it is to finish. And He invites me to do the same.

My kids and I– we run together. We run slower than molasses. We gasp out that things hurt, that the hill is hard, that the sun is hot. Sometimes we have conversations– that would be the kids talking while I grunt in reply, or maybe push out a few words in time with my hard breathing. We talk about the way the bean field has changed in the last few weeks, the sound our feet make on the bridge. Pooka tells us she’s feeling AWESOME and then thirty seconds later that she can’t possibly go on another second.

We distract each other, encourage each other, cheer each other on, and pick each other up. We are honest about how hard it is. We know that Dad has done it first, and if he can do it, maybe we can too. We set new goals and run toward them. We talk about how good the water at the end will feel on our throats, how delicious supper is going to taste after such a long run.

I promise not to start blogging every day about running, but I can’t help but see the parallels between our foray into the world of shin splints and running shoes and the race we are called to.

There is One who has gone before us, who is already seated in victory at the finish line. He is pleased with every step we take– both on the days when we barely make it a yard and on the days when we feel like we could run forever. He has made the way for us and promises to help us and to guide us.

And He has, in His goodness, not left us alone. His Spirit within us gives us strength. And His people around us– our fellow runners– are there to encourage us, to refocus our energies, to pick us up when we fall down. We are not lone runners blazing a trail through the wilderness. We are following in His steps, with His saints cheering us on from the stands, with our fellow runners beside us just as my kids run beside me.

I don’t know if I’m ever going to run a 5K. I don’t know if I’ll finish the program, or what I’ll do then. But I do know that I ran 20 minutes yesterday without stopping. I know that my kids ran it too. And more importantly, I know that I will finish the race God has given me to run, because my Savior isn’t just the Founder of this race of faith; He is its Finisher.

Time to lace up my running shoes. My victory awaits. So does yours.

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