Tag Archives: Marathon

Hitting the Wall; Pressing On

photo by Josiah Mackenzie via Flickr

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

This past weekend I had the opportunity to hang out with some old friends from high school. They all ran together on the cross country team back in the day. Running was never my sport. I  tried it one year, but it wasn’t my thing. Nevertheless, I learned a lot from hanging out with runners. Once in a while, the guys would attempt a marathon. When they would talk about their experience with the marathon they would talk about “hitting the wall.” It’s the point at which they would fatigue mentally and physically to the point of wanting to give up. If they could gut it out and continue on they would get a surge of energy and  a dose of “runner’s high” to carry them on, but they often would hit the wall and bail out.

I’ll be honest. This morning as I read the words “Let us not become weary” my heart said, “Too late.” I am feeling weary. I am hitting the wall. Don’t worry; I am not weary to the point of giving up as Paul admonished, but I have come to realize along the way that there are certain stretches of the faith journey in which weariness sets in. It is inevitable. In a marathon, everyone hits the wall at some point.

It was in worship yesterday morning that I truly realized it. The tears started and wouldn’t stop. It was a good thing. It’s one of the things that worship is meant to accomplish. We need moments to pour it all out so that God has room to re-fill us. For me it is not one major thing burdening me but a host of little things that, en masse, have worn on me. It is what it is. I’ve been here before. I will be here again. When you run a marathon you’re going to hit the wall at different points along the way. You push through.

Today, as I start a new week, I am hitting the wall and pressing on.

Chapter-a-Day Isaiah 61

The journey continues. The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners.
God sent me to announce the year of his grace— a celebration of God's destruction of our enemies— and to comfort all who mourn
…. Isaiah 61:1-2 (MSG)

My friend, Kevin, and I have been reading a chapter a day together for several years. If my memory serves me correctly, it's been since the summer of 2003 or 2004. I've been blogging this chapter-a-day journey for over four years now, ever since April 4, 2006 when I posted about Mark 8. Along with the day-to-day thoughts about each chapter, I've also picked up some overarching thoughts and observations. For example, I have to confess that books like Isaiah sometimes feel like they take for ever to wade through. The incessant doom, gloom, and judgment gets a little depressing about twenty chapters in. Then you realize you have forty some chapters to go. Ugh. If you've been following along this whole time, I applaud you. Seriously, if it weren't for my commitment and desire to walk through every chapter of God's Message, I would likely have long since abandoned it for some easier reading in the New Testament.

That leads me to another observation, however. If I had abandoned Isaiah a third of the way in, I would have missed out on some of the most amazing passages of God's Message I've ever read. A journey through the entire Bible is, I must imagine, a lot like running a marathon. Friends who are runners will tell me about stretches of the race in which you "hit the wall" and feel like you can't go on. If you press on through these you find a "runner's high" in which you feel renewed and energized. I think reading's God's message is a lot like that. There are always oasis treasures to be found in midst of the dryest parts.

I also find that the chapter-a-day marathon has given me a renewed appreciation for the incredible story that the whole of God's Message tells. I read this morning's chapter and immediately think of Luke 4, when Jesus uses this very text for his semon in the hometown synagogue. Isaiah is full of amazing prophecies about Jesus. You don't appreciate the prophecy unless you've read the Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. You don't have a full appreciation for the story of Jesus until you've read the prophecies of Isaiah. They all fit together.

A special thank you to Kevin and to those who've followed along on all or parts of this journey like Wendy, Cindy, Laurie, Jen, Mom and Dad, and Matthew. That's another lesson I've learned, and the final one I'll share this morning. It's great to have companions along the way. It makes the trip far more worthwhile.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and Jamelah

Chapter-a-Day Micah 7

But me, I'm not giving up. I'm sticking around to see what God will do.
I'm waiting for God to make things right. I'm counting on God to listen to me
.
Micah 7:7 (MSG)

I read Micah's opening line: "I'm overwhelmed with sorrow! sunk in a swamp of despair!" and I totally get it. A couple of months ago I entered a stretch of the journey in which my faith was worn incredibly thin. Stretched to the point of breaking, I felt like a marathon runner who "hits the wall" in the middle of the course. When you experience those moments you feel like pulling off the road and calling it quits. The idea of continuing seems ludicrous and  pointless. Doubt pushes faith away. Disappointment negates what little drive you have left. Pain overshadows purpose to the point that it disappears from view. 

But, I also get Micah's determination. Clinging to the tattered shreds of trust, you press on to find that faith untested is of little consequence. Depth of faith is proportionate to the endurance required to push through the trial set before you. Maturity emerges out of perseverance.