Clergy Corner: Better Than $150,000.00?

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 The Boston Marathon! What an amazing race! Back when I was in high school and spending a fair amount of time running track, my dad told me if I would prepare for the Boston Marathon and meet the qualifying time, he would sponsor me. It never happened but I did give it some thought. Last year 28,604 people from 120 countries ran the race in hopes of collecting the $150,000 top prize money awarded to the fastest overall man and woman in the open divisions. A prize well worth running for I would say! 

   In a sense, the Christian walk is also a marathon with a prize. A much better prize! And this race is not a sprint but a steady, long trek in the same direction. And, like a marathon, the first “20 miles” aren’t so bad. But as the race continues, it’s the last 6.2 miles that can be challenging. Energy starts to lag a bit. Fatigue sets in and everything inside you wants to stop. But that’s when we have to, as Paul wrote, “Press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus.” And the grand prize?  Heaven bound with all its benefits!

   The late comic George Carlin once wrote about growing old – the ‘Marathon of life’ if you will. Here’s part of what he penned: 

   “Do you realize the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we’re kids? If you’re less than 10 years old, you’re so excited about aging that you think in fractions. “How old are you?” “I’m four and a half.” You’re never thirty-six and a half. You’re four and a half, going on five.

   You get into your teens, now they can’t hold you back. You jump to the next number or even a few ahead. “How old are you?” “I’m gonna be 16!” You become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony. You BECOME 21. Yessss! But then you turn 30. Ouch, what happened here? Makes you sound like bad milk! He TURNED – we had to throw him out. There’s no fun now, you’re just sour-milk. What’s changed?

   You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then you’re PUSHING 40. Whoa! Put on the brakes, it’s all sliding away. Before you know it, you REACH 50 and your dreams are gone. But wait! You MAKE it to 60. You didn’t think you would. 

   So you BECOME 21, TURN 30, PUSH 40, REACH 50, and MAKE it to 60. You’ve built up so much speed that you HIT 70. After that it’s a day-by-day thing.

   You get into your 80’s and every day is a complete cycle; you HIT lunch, you TURN 4:30, you REACH bedtime. And it doesn’t end there. In the 90’s, you start going backwards – “I was JUST 92.” Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again and start all over. “I’m 100 and a half.” George Carline – very creative life-thinker!

   I see a lot of similarities between life and marathons. Think about it – a marathon is not a team sport. Each individual runs the race for themselves, no one else can run it or stand in for them. Winning or loosing is totally dependent on the individual runner. And, like a marathon, the Christian ‘walk’ is a long-distance run and definitely not for the faint of heart. It will eventually involve some pain.

 We are challenged with relationship issues, finances are stretched, perhaps sickness pommels your body, and disappointment batters you around a bit – everything in you wants to stop. But you keep pressing forward toward the spectacular prize.

   Have you ever wondered why a car’s windshield is so large and the rear view mirror so small?! It’s because our past is not as important as our future. At this precise moment next year your life will be better or worse than it is right now. It will not be the same! But the choice, as always, is wholly yours. As Warren Wiersbe said; “The past is a rudder to guide you not an anchor to drag you.”

   So, my advice — run your marathon with grace, with passion, with enthusiasm, and – most of all, run it with God. Then you will be able to say like one writer: “David, reflecting on life said, “We finish our years like a sigh.” The cry on my heart is: “Not with a sigh Lord – but with a shout! With a battle-cry!” I want to be so engaged in the life God gave me that when I arrive, angels will have to pry the sword from my hand!”

Bob and Susan Beckett pastor the Dwelling Place City Church at 27100 Girard Street in Hemet, CA.  For more information, you may contact them at DPCitychurch.org

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