I asked Norman just as he was leaving for work one morning, five measly weeks prior to race day, "Honey, could we do a 5k in April?" I know that he answers quickly when he's on his way out the door. (Translation: He only half-heard me.)
"A 5k, huh? Okay." But it wasn't the usual "okay." It was the long "Okaaaayyyy" that Norman uses when he's wondering what his wife is plotting this time. I am the spontaneous one in our marriage. He is...
A few days later, I handed him his new race swag (you know, the fancy logo shirt that makes it look like you're a runner even if you're not), and then announced, "We need new shoes. Our old tennies won't do."
Armed with large coupons, we bought new running shoes and were soon decked out like wannabe-runners. I was training in earnest, following a chart printed from the Hot Chocolate 15k/5k official racing website. Things were coming along fairly well for someone who hasn't run competitively since her hair was in pony tails. Norman didn't always feel like training, so he joined in now and then. I had this thought as I observed my Norman's casual attitude towards race prep: "He is going to be burnt toast on race day." That's what I thought.
Race day arrived, and it brought a thunderstorm with it. Norman heard the rain pounding on the roof and said, "I'm not running in this. I'll end up getting sick!" It was two hours before race time when he made this announcement.
|Francie runs for chocolate|
"Well, we've paid for it, so I'm running. You can drop me off and be the race photographer," I said with resolve. I really wanted to run this race together, but oh well. I laced up my five-week-old shoes and rode the short distance to the race. Norman parked the car and met me at the starting gate: "I've changed my mind. I'm going to run."
Team Taylor for the chocolate!
The Bible has plenty of "run the race" verses. The parallels between running and living the Christian life are inescapable:
A race may have an unexpected outcome. "I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all." (Ecclesiastes 9:11)
One would assume that the race would always be won by those who trained for it, but "time and chance" can change that. I trained as diligently as possible, but I came in 116th-place in my age category! My Norman trained when he felt like it, then took off like a 6-foot-four cougar and I never saw him again until I crossed the finish line...several minutes behind him. We never know how a person is going to finish until the end of their race.
A race requires patience. "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us," (Hebrews 12:1)
Running is placing one foot in front of the other, over and over again. This is so much like the repetitive nature of the ministry. We lather, rinse, and repeat our various duties every week. It would be easy to become weighted down with cares and distractions (life is so full of them). If you feel like quitting, confide in someone who will be your spiritual "cheerleader." It did me a world of good to look out into the crowd of spectators and see my sister Janelle and brother-in-love Dennis, cheering us on. Running with patience is easier with support.
A race has a prize at the end. "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain." (1 Corinthians 9:24)
The top ten are an elite group in any race, making the rest of us noble participants. My Norman told me how his head shifted into high gear once he realized that he was in a real race. The "old athlete" was called into service and he ran to win. Amazingly, he came in 9th place for the 65-69-year-old men's category! (And this was the man who wasn't going to run. I'm still saying "humph" over that!) Are we running our race as Christians with real goals of honoring the Lord, sharing the gospel, and serving others with our lives, or are we just strolling towards the finish line?
This race was yet another experience that had many scriptural similarities. I see lessons everywhere: in the garden, by the ocean, and now, on the running course.
|Hot Chocolate prizes|
At the end of the race, the runners were handed large mugs filled with hot chocolate. They also gave us hot fudge fondue, giant marshmallows, bananas, and Rice Krispy bars for dunking in the fondue. The proceeds from the race will go to the Ronald McDonald House, providing housing for families with a hospitalized child who have to travel far from home for the hospital stay.
Running for a cause is a "work of heart." It is also a picture of life in the ministry. Run with patience.
"My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth." (1 John 3:18)