By Rick Hamlin
Rejoice in Your Faith, Rejoice in the Race
Rejoice. Rejoice in the spring. Rejoice that it’s Easter. Rejoice in your faith. I’m rejoicing for a runner named Meb Keflezighi, who won yesterday’s Boston Marathon.
He’s ancient for a marathoner, 38 years old. He’s had some stunning marathon victories, such as his silver at the 2004 Olympics and his victory in the 2009 New York Marathon, but then there was the disappointing fourth place in the 2012 Olympics. And yet, here is he, back, winning a grueling race with a repeat of his best time ever, 2:08:37.
Makes me want to quote some scripture, a verse from Paul that I don’t doubt Meb knows and would delight in: “Don’t you know that all the runners in the stadium run, but only one gets the prize? So run to win” (Corinthians 9:24).
Meb won the prize this year, against extraordinary odds. There are dozens of times he didn’t win the prize, but he kept putting himself out there. His victory is one of perseverance, hope, discipline, doggedness and faith.
I’m a runner too, not at all in Meb Keflezighi’s caliber, not by a long shot, but one of those slowpokes who stumbles bleary-eyed out of bed, throws on some shoes and makes his way through the neighborhood and up around the park for a couple of laps.
Let me be honest. Lots of times I don’t really feel like doing it. I suspect Meb has felt the same way. In a Guideposts story, he told about his despair immediately after the New York marathon of 2007, when his good friend and running partner Ryan Shay died during the race of a heart attack.
All runners have aches and pains, but the pain then was heartache, something much deeper. And yet he came back, and has come back. That’s why I think of Meb as a model for more than just running.
Let me go back to Paul: “Everyone who competes practices self-discipline in everything. The runners do this to get a crown of leaves that shrivel up and die, but we do it to receive a crown that never dies” (Corinthians 9:25).
Faith is a race. It can be grueling. We can find ourselves paralyzed by doubts, pummeled by loss, drained by uncertainty, exhausted by misfortune. But to believe is to get up every morning, trusting God, looking to Scripture, finding help and encouragement from believing friends, singing a hymn or two, reading a devotional, checking out a blog, saying prayers for others.
In this race we all win. Just being in the race is to win. So run to win. Rejoice. It’s Easter season. We’re all running together in the perpetual springtime of Easter.
God bless you, Meb!