“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a 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.Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Running means so much more to me than getting in shape, meeting a challenge, or releasing stress—and that’s because of Hebrews 12:2, my favorite passage in Scripture. Running reflects all aspects of my life. There will be obstacles, and there will be both failures and successes. But there is really only one factor that determines the outcome of my race.
I’m weak. Even if I train for months and prepare my body for the physical challenge of running 13.1 miles, I still need to believe in myself and remember that the faith of my Savior and my friends will carry me through the pain and the exhaustion.
Having faith was the most challenging part of preparing for the Miami Half-Marathon. After I decided to run for Team Samaritan’s Purse in August, I sprinted into training. I started out very disciplined and focused. I established a goal of raising $1,000 for animal and agriculture projects. I was confident that running for Team SP was something God wanted me to do.
Then in October, I got to travel to Honduras to see our agriculture programs firsthand. I was amazed at how giving a family something as simple as a chicken, goat, or seeds can change their lives drastically. I returned excited, but I still felt a nagging pang of disbelief in my heart that I might not be able to raise the money.
That’s when everything started to get harder.
A lot of travel + winter in the mountains of North Carolina + a back injury + stress from relationships and personal failures = stop running.
My stride went from a sprint to a pathetic trot. I thought about quitting, but God brought people along the way to encourage me to keep going. Slowly all the donations came in, my back healed, and the weather even cleared up enough for me to get off the treadmill and run outside a couple of times before race day. Ironically enough, I raised a little more than $1300–$100 per mile!
When I woke up last Sunday at 4 a.m., I remembered the families I met in Honduras who wake up every day at the same hour to care for their crops and animals and felt a renewed sense of responsibility to run my race well. Rewards require hard work and sacrifices.
I started out really strong, but at mile 10 I started to cramp up. After mile 11 I slowed down significantly. But I didn’t stop; I kept going to the finish line. The long journey was hard, but completely worth it.
A few thoughts entered my mind as I was running that I want to encourage you with:
You may feel alone, but you’re not.
There were not many spectators on the sidelines, a lot of runners had their ear buds in listening to music, and most of the time I had no one to talk to. But because of this I could feel God’s presence even stronger.
You want to quit, but you have to keep going.
One of my mom’s friends committed suicide just a few days before the race. I thought about her a number of times during the half-marathon. Peter says in 1 Peter 5:8 that Satan is like a lion who prowls around looking for someone to devour. At our weakest point, the adversary will try to destroy us. We have the choice to believe lies, or believe in the truth of Christ.
You want to do it on your own, but you need the help of others.
When I was in Honduras, I saw how pride often prevents the work of God. Samaritan’s Purse can’t help if the people are not willing to reveal their needs. A father told me in tears that he used to try to do everything on his own for the good of his family. When Christ humbled his heart, he felt freedom and peace. Communities were able to grow and flourish because they worked together in love for one another.
You think the finish line will never come, but it’s just around the corner.
Only God knows the future. Most of the time we can only see the problems in front of us, which can cause us to lose hope. But God wants us to have faith, and trust that He is going to bring us to the finish line.
You want to leave everyone in the dust, but you have a responsibility to care about the people around you.
As I was running, I thought about the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. It would be easy to leave the ear buds in and only think about yourself—how you are running, how fast, how many people you are beating in the race—just like the Pharisees did in Jesus’ day. But we are all called to care. I was blessed by one runner, Mary Patch, who sponsored me in the race. She came alongside me at mile 10 and encouraged me. I didn’t expect it, but it was just what I needed. God will confront you with hurting people in the road of your life. Will you stop and give everything you can to help? Or will you blaze past them and pursue your own medal?
Thank you so much everyone who donated and also to those who prayed for me and encouraged me along the way. My fund-raising page will be open until Valentine’s Day.