Patience. Endurance. Long suffering. These words are often used together in scripture, sometimes interchangeably. If you’re a distance runner, you understand why.
You also understand the importance of breaking things down. Running the mile you’re in. And the importance of those little things that keep you going.
A marathon is much less intimidating if you think of it as thirteen 2-mile runs between aid stations. You know that at each one, there will at least be something to drink, and if you’re lucky, maybe even a snack. My personal favorite was Dunkin’ Donuts at Mile 24 of Marine Corps. 🙂 At a big race like that, there are lots of cheering spectators and people holding signs to remind you: Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.
Sometimes there are other things that give you that little boost you need to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I will never forget staring up at the mile 9 hill during my first half at Cowtown. There was a sea of humanity before me, showing just how steep the climb ahead would be. But a bluegrass song called, “Shouting On the Hills of Glory” came on just as I began my ascent and powered me to the top.
These things don’t just happen at races. Even on training runs, I find myself focusing on just getting to the next gel or water break. And I am blessed by the unexpected, be it running through sprinkler rainbows or past a gorgeous display of flowers, or the kindness of strangers: an angel/trucker parked on my route who offered me a bottle of ICE cold water, a train full of kids waving as I ran past near the zoo, or a woman who rolled down her window and hollered, “You’re my hero!” as I tackled a big hill.
There is no way to describe how these moments breathe new life into a run. Some we know are coming, and we’re counting on them. Others are complete surprises, received as gifts from God in His perfect timing.
The same is true of our life journey. We all need an oasis now and then, a place to refuel and refresh. Or some kind of little boost that gives us encouragement and keeps us moving forward, especially when we feel like quitting. Like with running, it can come through a song on the radio, an act of kindness, or words from those who cheer us on. It can come from a scripture that cuts right through to the heart of the matter. Or one of those God winks when you know what some might call coincidence was anything but.
Some of these things are beyond our control. Some are straight from heaven. But we also have the opportunity to provide these for each other. As Hebrews 10:24-25 says:
Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds….encouraging one another…
So be someone’s cheerleader today. Who do you know that could use encouragement? How can you be a blessing? The best part is, it’s not a zero sum game. When you give encouragement, it will lift your spirits, too!