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Final Thoughts

Regardless of the trial in life, we must realize that it is only temporary in the grand scheme of things. And rather than focusing on our circumstance, we must keep our eyes on the Lord and realize that He is in control and will sustain us and carry us to that great day when we receive THE crown.

My final lesson came on the actual day of the marathon. I was nervous and excited as the race began but got off to a pretty good start. As I grew tired and experienced the pains of the run, I imagined all of the participants who had not trained for the marathon. I knew that their struggle must have been greater than my own. There was no way I could have finished the marathon had I not trained. So it is with our Christian journey. It is amazing how we as Christians go through life without following the proper training and instructions. Reading the Bible only occasionally or when in church will not keep you for the long haul. Many of us are so easily influenced by the surrounding culture because we so seldom pause to hear from God's Word. Looking back, most occasions in life when I felt that I "couldn't make it" were simply rebellious periods when I wasn't seeking after God. God designed us for relationship with Him.

As I continued to run, I didn't think I was going to make it to the end. At around mile 17, I hit the wall pretty hard. My legs felt like jelly, I had trouble breathing. My only thought was how horrible I felt and how far I had yet to go. I felt like giving up. Just then, I thought about the finish and what it would feel like to have that medal placed around my neck. I imagined the sense of accomplishment I'd feel to have completed the Marine Corps Marathon. Over the years I've heard many variations of the message to keep an eternal perspective and keep our eyes on spiritual things. Or as stated in Colossians 3:2, "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." It wasn't until that very moment that I began to understand what this really meant. You see, it was at that point that I realized that the only thing that was keeping me going was the finish line, my one shining moment. While the pains lingered, whenever I shifted my thoughts on the finish line I realized my pain was temporary. I would reach the end soon. So rather than giving in to my pain, I chose to focus on my goal of finishing. If I had to crawl across that finish line, I was going to make it no matter what it took. I was going to stick to the course and make it through. At one point I yelled to my running mates, "no matter what I say, don't let me quit." It struck me how much we need this eternal perspective in our Christian journey.

If I could stay that focused on a crown that wouldn't last, shouldn't I be able to remain focused on a crown that will last forever? Regardless of the trial in life, we must realize that it is only temporary in the grand scheme of things. And rather than focusing on our circumstance, we must keep our eyes on the Lord and realize that He is in control and will sustain us and carry us to that great day when we receive THE crown. The more we focus on Him, the smaller our problems become.

I mentioned at the beginning that I was "coerced" in to doing this. Well, it was no accident. God had me in this so I could move from just making it as a lukewarm Christian to truly understanding what it means to discipline myself for the journey and have an eternal perspective. Yes, the journey of life does require strict training. But God has given us all the tools we need to finish strong.

It felt great to finish the marathon. Many of my colleagues who came to the race to cheer me on still cannot understand my motivation. Some of my friends asked me why anyone would subject themselves to the training regimen, especially for a silly medal. But I ran for much more than the medal, just as my Christian walk is for so much more. Not that I have been perfect on my Christian walk, but I try to grow every day and run this race in such a way that I may win. So that one day, I may be able to cross that glorious finish line and say like Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7-8, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."

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Rule #1 - You don't have to "look" like a runner
Rule #2 - It's not a competition
Rule #3- Find a good pace group
Rule #4 - He who endures shall receive a crown
Rule #5- Don't look back
Rule #6- Drink water, drink water, drink water
Rule #7- Beware of the wall
Final Thoughts

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