Marathons and Moving Forward

Seven marathons in seven days. Really? Seven marathons in seven days on seven continents. Is it possible? For Becca Pizzi and Daniel Cartica it was. They ran a total of 183.4 miles in between flights to Antartica; Sydney, Australia; Miami, Florida; Chili; Spain; Morocco and United Arab Emirates and all within a week. Pizzi and Cartica are known as endurance athletes, and Pizzi will forever be known as the first woman to complete this endurance event.  I am struck by their endurance to keep moving forward.

As I read about Pizzi in the newspaper, I thought of Paul who wrote so much of the New Testament. Perhaps today he would be called an endurance apostle because there is no doubt he endured much for the sake of proclaiming the gospel beyond Jerusalem. Furthermore, the letters he wrote to churches tell about seven races he ran on behalf of others in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colossae, Thessolanica. To the church in Philippi, he wrote this about what it means to keep moving forward:

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my
way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends,
don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve
got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and
running, and I’m not turning back. So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us
who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind,
something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll
see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.
~Ephesians 3:12-16 (The Message)

As a spiritual director, I watch people run marathons of one sort or another.  For the person fighting cancer, it is a physical marathon of trying to regain health and strength. For those battling depression or managing shifts in relationships, it can be an emotional marathon. For the person changing jobs or moving to a new home, it is a mental marathon of leaving the unfamiliar and readjusting the mind to a new normal. For the person wondering where God is or why God would allow something to happen, it is a spiritual marathon.

What kind of race are you running? It is physical, emotional, mental or spiritual? Do you feel like an endurance athlete or an endurance apostle traveling from one marathon to another? If so, may you and I be like Paul off and running each new day. May we reach out for Christ, totally committed to not turning back but showing up one race at a time. Moreover, may we forever have clear vision to see God beckoning us onward each new day.  Amen and amen.

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