Another Bloomsday Sunday has come and gone…the 40th one. Running 12 kilometers (about 7.2 miles) is difficult to do. As a matter of fact, I’ve never been able to run the entire route. You have to be pretty serious about running to manage that. For the vast majority of the field it will take more than an hour to complete the course, and for some two to three. There are times that you want to give up, you get so tired and sore that you don’t think you can make it to the end, but still you press on. All along the course there are volunteers and spectators urging you to keep going; cheering for you to make it to the end…to win that prized T-shirt.
All of life is a race. Some call it the “Rat Race”, but I guess that depends on what type of characters that are usually found around you. Just like in Bloomsday it takes endurance to be able to navigate the entire course. And also, just like Bloomsday, there will be times that we grow tired and sore, and contemplate giving up. But that’s not an option.
Since the distance is long it is vital that we manage our race, finding the proper pace. The temptation might be to take off like a jackrabbit, in a full sprint. That might get you ahead briefly, but it can’t last. You’ll find yourself too soon exhausted and everyone else will in time pass you by. For some there is even the idea of cheating, crossing the starting line, and then taking an unauthorized shortcut to more quickly and easily get to the finish. Cheaters are disqualified and don’t win the prize.
The writer to the Hebrews expresses our faith journey as a long race, one that requires endurance. He says that we “run with endurance the race that is set before us”. We don’t get to choose the race course. It’s set out in advance for us by our Lord God. He decides where we’ll go and how long it will take to get to the finish line. Ours is to manage the race, to keep on going at the proper pace…not too fast, not too slow…so that we can get to where we need to go on schedule, and not quit or end up having a heart attack or throwing up in a bush because we wanted to show everyone else how strong and fast we are. Oh, and another thing, how many runners in race do you see carrying along a bunch of heavy junk? Not the ones that are going to be successful. We are to lay aside, put down, the love of worldly stuff, and the sin that sticks to tightly to it, so that we won’t be hampered by it.
All along the way the best advice is to keep our eyes glued to Jesus, our Savior. He has shown us how best to run life’s race, how to successfully navigate the course that was laid out by God the Father just for Him. His route included, in the very last mile, betrayal, rejection, abandonment, beatings, mocking, crucifixion and an agonizing death. He saw it coming. In spite of all of that He kept going, because He knew what was on the other side, across the finish line. He knew that His eternal glory awaited Him. And that joy that was set before Him, well that is you and I. It’s the joy of knowing that because He endured eternal death and hell we won’t have to. It’s the joy of knowing that we will be with Him in heaven forever. We look to Him for our strength, and for the faith that will keep us going on the right path. And as we run, and our pain and agony begin to pile up, there is also that “cloud of witnesses” cheering us on. These are our faithful friends and relatives, some here and some already across the finish line, who want to make sure that we are all together at the post race party, a bash that will never end.