Running the Race
Every summer there is an ultramarathon that happens in the Crowsnest Pass. It's called the Sinister 7. Seven legs, 161 km (100 miles) covered and 5,687m in elevation gained over the course. Racers have 30 hours to complete the race and can race in teams of up to 7 or solo. It's punishing to say the least.
Leg 7 goes right by one of the camps my husband and I worked at and every year we were there, we would see them flag the course, get stations set up, set signs up, and knew at least a few people who participate in the event. One of the woman who won first in the female solo category one year was someone I grew up with.
I'm always amazed by how much training some people put in beforehand, just to prepare and then I've seen some people suffer for days and weeks after from not preparing enough.
Ultramarathons and even the Olympics got me thinking about endurance, perseverance and training. Now, not all of us are runners, but we have probably all had something that we had to pursue diligently, be it school, university, a trade, a hobby, an instrument, cooking, homemaking, etc. We're all aware that excellence comes from that training and then further development of a skill or the building of endurance and strength.
I remember learning piano and guitar and the hours and hours I would spend practicing. With piano I would listen to songs over and over just to hear and memorize the tone and quality. I would then play songs over and over to memorize them enough to 'feel' the music I was playing. With guitar it took daily practice to build up callouses on my fingers and for my fingers to memorize their positions for chords well enough so that each chord sounded beautiful every time I played it. It took time and diligence.
The interesting thing about physical training is that a large part of the endurance comes down to mental stamina. It really is a mental exercise to push your body to the limit and then keep going. There has to be something outside of that person that they focus on. For some it may be the accomplishment, others a prize, and for others it's gaining further or new knowledge.
Paul uses the example of physical training and running a race as an example of how we are to train ourselves spiritually. He also shows us that our focus cannot necessarily be on the here and now, but needs to be on eternity.
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore, I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline by body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
“For bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.” (1 Timothy 4:8-10)
I think that if we daily strived to have a more eternal focus, the way we live our lives, the things we strive for and long for, the things that capture our attention and waste our time would change.
How much time do we devote to spiritual training? Is it enough for excellence?
Honestly, I personally don't and that needs to change. I shouldn't ever be tempted to say, 'well it's good enough, I'll probably survive'. But, that's not the point is it, the point is to win!
When it comes to our positions of leadership, how we run, influences others; how we train, influences others; what our focus is, influences others.
Where is your focus for your training? Is it in light of eternity?
*Originally posted on The Eddy Blog 2016