Before I dive into those thoughts, I would like to give a little background about my running experiences. I ran on my high school cross-country team as well as my high school Track and Field team at Anna High School. I was never an overly competitive runner, but I thoroughly enjoyed my experience, nonetheless. I also ran in a bunch of local 5k races back in my hometown. Then when I came down to start my college career, I slacked off my first year and a half of school, and didn’t do any running at all. Then, in the spring semester of my 2nd year, I decided to train for the half marathon portion of the Cincinnati Flying Pig. I thoroughly enjoyed it and have made it a priority to stay in shape ever since and have recently ran in the Hudepohl 14k (8.6 miles) Brewery Run. Basically, I have run in a decent amount of races and long-distance running is something that strikes me close to heart.
Now, after that brief flashback about myself, I’ll bring it back to my original thought of how running is a great representation of life. As everyone knows, any kind of race can be broken down into a beginning, middle, and an end. My high school cross country and track coach always told me that in order to run a perfect race, one must run the beginning of the race with your head, the middle of the race with your training/skills/work ethic, and the end of the race with nothing but your heart and soul. If one can do this during a race, they will have run an unbelievable race, but in reality, if someone can live their life in this manner, they will have lived an outstanding life.
In an endurance event, the beginning can be thought of as the most important because this is the stage that sets up the positioning for the rest of the race. It is critical to be smart in this stage and to not do something that one would regret later on in the race. In life, this stage can be viewed as the childhood, adolescent, and early young adult years. It is during this time, that the foundation for our lives is laid. We attend preschool, kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school. Some of us attend college or go straight into the workforce. Throughout this time we are constantly learning and taking in new information and gaining experience. In a sense, we are positioning ourselves for how we will be living the rest of our lives.
The middle of a race is where the pain and fatigue begins to set in, and this is where a runner depends on the training that they have done before the race to help them push through this difficult phase. In life, this stage represents the prime labor and critical decision-making time period of a person’s life. This time period can be extremely difficult for anyone to go through with having a job, family, bills to pay, friends to keep in touch with, and so much more. Many times people become overwhelmed, but during this time it is critical to lean on the experience that we have gained throughout our lives. More importantly, it is imperative to lean on the strength of God’s love as He is constantly waiting to be our guide. He has a plan for us in our lives, and if we are patient enough and trusting enough to put our lives into His hands, He will show us the way to true happiness.
Now, this brings us to the end. The pain at this point in a race has become borderline unbearable, but we can see the finish line in sight, and runners rely on their heart and soul to essentially “will” themselves to the finish line. In life, this is the stage towards the end of the career or in retirement. Although I can’t speak from experience with this stage in life, these elderly individuals have experienced so much of life and have felt just about every emotion possible to humankind. At this point, one truly begins to understand the fact that their time on this Earth is coming to a close and they are about to head into the next life. Sure, we all know that we’re going to die someday, but how often do we truly accept that fact and fully comprehend what that means? It can be so hard to fathom a life other than the one we are currently living, but if we put our faith in God and allow Him to be our strength and our guide, He will fill our hearts and souls with invigoration and strength and we will be able to hit that finish line with pride and satisfaction.
As college students, we are at the critical point where we are converting from the beginning stages to the middle stages of our lives. It can be an extremely difficult time with many unbelievably tough decisions, but with fervent prayer to our Savior and unending trust in our God, we can all make it through this transition victorious and primed for a wonderful life ahead of us.
One point that I have purposely left until the end is that throughout a race, a runner is always thinking about the end. Life is not simply just a bunch of chunks where one only thinks about the now and not about the past or future. As we run our race of life, we should begin every moment with the end in mind. We need to contemplate whether or not each decision we make will help us to reach the goal finish line of rejoicing in heaven with our loving Father for all of eternity. If we begin with the end in mind, we will make decisions throughout our lives that we are proud of because we’ll know that we chose a decision that we felt pleased our Father. The greatest feeling in a race is crossing the finish line and receiving a medal from a helper at the event. I pray that we all may someday cross that finish line and receiving that finishing award from the greatest helper of them all, our loving and caring God. The award that He shall present you shall transcend all other awards you will ever receive, a trip into His paradise. Forever.
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.