November 18, 2011 Read: Hebrews 12

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." -- Hebrews 12:1

I think God understands the marathon. Many people will tell you that a marathon is all about the journey, the memories. Well, yes and no. While the memories have their moments, what awaits us at the end is really what it's all about. I mean, I loved the music at mile 12, but I didn't hang around for an entire song. It played, not so much that I would enjoy, but more so that I would endure.

When I began the race, I had a running partner as well as a dedicated pacer (the pacer's name was Paul, by the way.) But as you learned this week, a little over midway through the race, my body started to fail me. And when the partner and pacer ran ahead, I had to slow down. But had that not happened, I would have missed the blind man with his guide, and the woman in the wheelchair with no legs. And yes, I would have missed the two men who led me my last few miles of the race. Two men wearing identical shirts; bright yellow jerseys with black letters. Unmistakable to me. Not so much for the color combo, but for the words on their backs. On one shirt, "Father", and on the other, "Son". Oddly enough, the only comfort I could muster at the time was written on the back of two strangers.

The journey is one thing. But while our bodies fail us, friends leave us, and pacers lose us, the only real comfort is who we follow to the finish. I think God understands the marathon.

P.S. At dinner that night, I watched a lady limping her way through a restaurant. As she passed our table, I said, "Congratulations". Surprised, she thanked me. Hmm. You can always tell the runners. You can see it in their walk.

--Jimmy Pena



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