“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”Hebrews 12:1
The Good Book never ceases to exhort us to remain in the fellowship of believers.
It is plain to see that man are designed to thrive on being connected to warm and enriching relationships.
Being in the company of strong social ties brings out one’s effectiveness, as people affect one another with their words and deeds, shaping their relationships for better or worse.
To the delight of athletes, this principle can be observed in sports as well. Being in a team helps to reach your potential which you may not be able to achieve on your own.
Riding in a peloton
“If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
In sports, one can clearly observe that man is designed to rely on one another
. At the Tour de France, cyclists ride together in packs known as ‘peloton’ (from French, originally meaning ‘platoon’).
Riders in a peloton save energy by riding close to and particularly behind other riders.
Termed as ‘drafting’, this way of riding helps to reduce the aerodynamic drag (wind resistance) acting on them.
Riding the middle of the pack can save up to 40% of a cyclist’s energy expenditure.
Riding alone, the cyclist is exposed to the elements.
Together in a peloton, where external stress is borne by every member, each cyclist enjoys protection, strength and enhanced efficiency in racing.
This parallels a believer’s walk as in this earthly life, where we are called to never give up on meeting in fellowship with other believers.
In an abiding fellowship with believers, we receive strength through mutual encouragement and intercessory prayers for one another.
The believers cover one another and lift those who are weak or needing affirmation.
The ‘peloton’ of believers rides together and spur one another to press on ahead in face of crushing wind resistance (earthly trials and struggles).
They defend one another against the elements and the hard knocks of life.
There is strength in numbers.
A united team who forges ahead with one heart can achieve great things.
If a cord of three strands is not easily broken, imagine the invincibility of a peloton who ride in a single united heartbeat.
Here, Ecclesiastes beautifully articulates the notion of ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its part’.
Running with a pacer
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”Proverbs 27:17
A cutting tool will not become sharper without the presence of another tool.
On their own, both blades will be rendered dull and ineffective.
We need one another to grow towards greatness and full potential.
Rooted in the themes of friendship, accountability and mutual support, this analogy of iron sharpening iron clearly illustrates the fact that we are designed to run together.
Consider the inexperienced runner attempting his maiden marathon, starting out too fast too soon and not sticking to a pacing strategy.
The natural outcome awaiting him is *hitting the wall and fading in speed as the race progresses.
Fortunately, marathon running can be made easier if he were to run alongside a pacer.
A pacer is an experienced runner who runs a set speed in a race, typically in a long-distance event.
From the pacer, the runner learns invaluable race strategies and techniques such as regulating energy reserves, running in a tangential drift around bends, and fuelling at appropriate junctures.
The pacer also motivates and encourages his fellow following runners to persevere throughout the race, energizing them and thereby keeping their morale high.
Running alongside and keeping pace with a pacer increases the chances of finishing the race at one’s desired time.
The relationship between a novice runner and an experienced runner (who acts as a pacer) parallels that of the new believer and his spiritual mentor in the early years of his Christian walk.
All of us need a fellow brother or sister in Christ who is more mature than us to guide us and show us the ropes in our early spiritual walk.
This mentor walks with us, and knows us well to provide advice on managing trials and struggles.
He prays with us, intercedes for us, and spurs us on in our walk with God.
As we follow the guidance of the spiritual mentor, we receive much needed support and encouragement during the vulnerable early stages of our Christian walk.
We can press in throughout this earthly race with a mentor at our side.
The spiritual mentor and mentee are mutually accountable to each other, as they keep pace together.
One man sharpens another.
Being under the mentorship of a strong believer can help build up the new believer, just as how being with a strong runner can help the novice runner run better.
We all need cheerleaders in our life, be it in a physical or spiritual marathon.
*a point where the runner experiences a complete loss of energy due to the depletion of glycogen stores in the muscles and thus unable to continue the race.
Prayer and Reflection:
- How have running with other fellow runner help you improve your fitness and deepen the enjoyment of the sport?
- How have walking with other believers in your spiritual life help you stay faithful and devoted to Christ?
- What would you do to be that faithful encourager to a fellow believer?