Have you ever ran a race that you have never trained for?
I did my first full marathon without any formal, strategized training.
As a physiotherapist in training, I was busy with clinical attachments, and before I knew it, the day to bring my body to test arrived.
Any preparation at all came in the form of reading books and checking out forums for an idea of what a full marathon might be like.
Undeterred, I went ahead with it anyway.
At the 30km mark, I told myself to remember the burning pain in my legs and to never do this again.
I was seeking out medical personnel for some deep heat rub and stretching every 3 km.
Dramatic as it sounds now, I prayed for God to end the race prematurely by sending an ambulance to take me to the finishing line.
As a last resort, I drummed a motivation chant in my mind…
“A bit more and I will finish this race.”
I walked, hopped and did all directions of jogging- just so I could hit the next checkpoint.
As I came close to the last 100m, I decided to make a dash for the finishing line – only to have my best intentions sabotaged by an acute cramp in my calf.
Alas, I had to slow down and hobble across instead.
It may not have been a glamourous wave in, but I had completed it.
Have you envisioned how your race of Christian faith will be like?
Will it be like the full marathon I had without training- took some tips and started fair but struggling to complete with so much pain and discomfort?
Needless to say, I was not happy with my performance and chose, once more, to take part in an overnight full marathon.
This time, I committed to in training for it.
I was hoping it will be a positive race experience where I could later boast about completing with a personal best and minimal physical discomfort.
Contrary to my own “expectations”, I went through the same physical pain and mental challenge of just sustaining the run, and once more, I made another mental note to never “torture” myself.
It would turn out that these races mirrored my journey of faith as a parent or as a child of God for that matter.
Nothing would have prepared me to be “adequate” or “qualified” as either a parent or child of God.
Training simulates but racing sharpens your running edge.
As I reflect on my marathon experiences, it resonates with my journey as a parent who started out with a desire to parent in the ways of God.
Before my first child came along, preparation involved reading parenting books and chatting with other mothers-to-be in forums while waiting for the baby to arrive.
I thought I was somewhat ready and had totally underestimated what motherhood entailed.
It was only after I became a mother that I realised my race had truly begun.
I embarked on that race to impart and model Godly values to my children.
It was a race against the tide of worldly values that may come to root themselves in the lives of my children.
The materials I had diligently absorbed seemed familiar but not quite what I was experiencing.
I had to return numerous times to just observing my baby, committing trials and errors with my choices whilst continuing in the caring of my child.
The intensity of “racing” to care for my child adequately kept me on my toes.
When I found out about my second bub, I took more effort to research in the areas that I struggled with, by re-reading all the parenting books on top of attending workshops, making a list of useful apps, saving Instagram posts.
And like my 2nd marathon run, I was surprised to encounter, once again, the same parenting woes.
This time, however, it also exposed new areas of vulnerability of having to mother 2 children.
Why isn’t the 2nd one easier than the first?
By the time it came to my 3rd child, I had sharpened my senses- to watch, feel and react appropriately.
I had grown accustomed to the seasons of infant rearing.
Yet, all children are unique and my 3rd child is uniquely different in his own ways too.
The speed that you run must bring you to complete the race- otherwise it will be futile.
As in marathons, motherhood and the race of our Christian faith, it is never about how enthusiastically we start but how we finish.
We could begin well and still falter because we lack stamina and perseverance to complete it.
Among runners, there seem to exist an unspoken reluctance to walk during a race.
It stems from fear of breaking up the pace and not being able to return to running pace after slowing down.
We are often sold the image of racing through our milestones as Christians serving in the church and the greater community.
It is important to remember that there is probably no rostrum presentation in Heaven.
We will all have to cross our own finishing line before the eyes of God.
Don’t lose sight of our purpose in this race that God has called us to be.
Hanging on to that prize at the finishing line is key to sustaining in the Lord.
If you must slowdown in your race and walk or hop in a different direction, or get distracted and detour in the race, may these verses affirm you and encourage you to wait on the Lord.
(NIV) Isa 40:31 – But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
(NIV) 2 Cor 5:7 – For we walk by faith and not by sight.
Walking is a mode of locomotion that is slower in pace.
Yet, in the bible, the term was mentioned more than once about how we could and should walk in faith.
Taking a slower speed to navigate the challenges and complete the race is not a sign of weakness or retreat;
Giving up is.
What will sustain us in the race of our life on earth, as Isaiah 40:31 reminds us, is our hope in the Lord.
The prize of your race in this Christian faith, akin to the fruits of our parenting season, is one where you will receive in full when you complete the race.
As it is said in the book of Philippians, in verse 6 of the first chapter, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (NIV).
Reflection and Prayer:
- How have your parenthood journey been as you mirror it to a marathon race?
- Do you feel like God has called you into a journey which you were never prepared or ever ready?
How can you embrace it?