Les Sillars: Running the race


MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Monday, March 18th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Les Sillars has some thoughts on running the race.

LES SILLARS, COMMENTATOR: One day one of my students stuck her up her hand in class. “I saw you and Dr. Mitchell on the jogging track today,” she said.

“Oh really?” I said.

“Yeah,” she said. “Dr. Mitchell lapped you. Twice.”

That about sums up my long and undistinguished jogging career. I like to start slow, and then ease off from there.

One day I was on a bike path, bent over, hands on my knees, trying to catch my breath. I was dripping in sweat after a longish run. A woman pulled over and stepped out of her car.

“Are you OK?” she called across the ditch.

I waved back. “Yes, yes, thank you. I’m fine,” I said.

She looked doubtful. “You don’t look so good,” she said. “Do you want me to call your family or somebody? Come pick you up?”

“No, really, that’s very kind,” I said. “But I’m fine. Really.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes!”, I wanted to snap. But I didn’t because she was just trying to be helpful and I guess I looked like I needed help.

I don’t think of the Apostle Paul as a jogger, but he seemed to know something about running. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it,” he wrote.

Run with purpose, Paul said. If I say, today I’m going all the way to the intersection without stopping, then I do. If I say, I’ll just get started and see how it goes, then I don’t. The hills seem a little steeper, and the fatigue a bit sharper, and I’m more likely to step off the path. My pastor likes to point out that we’re all on a kind of track. Sometimes we stumble and fall to the side, but the important thing is that we get up, get back on the track, and keep running.

Run with self control, Paul said. These days some experts say you should keep your head up, take short steps, and don’t run heel-toe. The ball of your foot should strike the ground first. My natural style might be called the “slump and clump,” so this made a big difference. You can go much, much farther with self control.

Balance is a big part of that, and so is focus. When I stretch my quads, I stand on one foot and pull my other heel to my rear end. If I do this while looking around, I fall over. But if I pick one thing—a rock, a railing, a blade of grass—and focus on that, then I don’t. As the writer of Hebrews put it, let’s lay aside the sin that trips us up and “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”

Run knowing the reward is imperishable, Paul said. He finished the race, so he knew that there is “laid up 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 loved his appearing.”

I guess it’s time to lace up.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Les Sillars.


(Photo/Creative Commons)

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