A young businessman staggered into his house panting and drenched with sweat.
“What happened to you?” his surprised wife asked.
The young man gasped, “I had a great new idea. Instead of riding, I ran all the way home behind the bus and saved $1.”
“You dummy,” his wife said. “You could have run behind a taxi and saved $15!”
My guess is that most of us don’t think either idea sounds too smart. Who wants to run home from work? For that matter, who wants to run at all?
Apparently quite a few people do. Every March, more than 1000 people gather in Albany, Georgia for a little 13.1 mile run. Well actually, 400 hundred or so of them think that is too short and run 26.2 miles. And, they aren’t saving money; they pay to run!
Often, hearing about an event like that, some say, “Whew, I couldn’t do that.” What they really mean is not couldn’t but wouldn’t. After all, it’s common for participants with no legs to complete the marathon! (They pedaled a hand cycle for 26 miles.) Most people could run 13 miles; they just don’t want to do the training necessary to make that possible.
And, that’s fine. Runners get no extra stars in their crowns. But, God did use runners to teach an important point about how to live life to its fullest. The apostle Paul wrote, “Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training” (1 Corinthians 9:25-25).
What prizes do you want? A happy marriage? You can have it – if you’ll do the “strict training” necessary. Like to have stronger friendships? They’re yours if you’ll practice the daily routines required to cultivate relationships. Do you ever wish for a deeper spiritual life? Sorry, but wishing won’t make it so. “Strict training” will.
Runners are not normal. Normal is inactive, overweight, and looking for the easy way. Runners deliberately suffer pain to push themselves over miles of hills through blazing heat and numbing cold. Many are fanatical about never missing a day of running.
“They do it to get a crown that will not last,” Paul wrote; “but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” If our prize is more precious, shouldn’t we practice even harder than the most dedicated runner? Let’s run our race like we want to win it!