“. . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” – Hebrews 12:1
Can you believe it? Not a single person at the high school reunion I attended recently made mention of any of my great athletic achievements – not one! Could it be that despite participating in sports my entire childhood and youth, and despite being a loyal teammate and always following the coaches’ instructions, I never actually did anything noteworthy? Hmm, maybe! I remember, for instance, being on the track team in high school, yet too slow to run the hundred-yard dash, and not agile enough or strong enough to excel in any of the various field events. So, not knowing what else to do with me, the coaches would enter me in distance races, which even though I was slow I had enough endurance to at least be competitive. Even at that I never won anything that I recall.
Perhaps that is why I have always felt such a kinship with the tortoise in Aesop’s famous parable about The Tortoise and the Hare. The tortoise’s life seems to resemble my own as I look back on it, sort of plodding along, not just in my athletic endeavors, but in almost everything. Except, there is one big difference between the tortoise and me. The tortoise was insightful enough to know that if he persevered in putting one foot in front of the other he would succeed in reaching his desired goals. I, on the other hand, wanted to be like the hare. I longed to jump out ahead, to be quicker and faster than everyone else – even though I was notoriously slow. I recall as a young man dreaming of being the first among my age group to rise to the top. Instead, just like my track team days, I was the slow one, lagging behind many of my peers. I struggled with that for a time, yet kept plodding along until one day I looked around and saw that I had caught up with most of them, even surpassing a few. Only then did I begin to realize how life is not a sprint but a marathon, that “slow and steady wins the race,” as the fable so wisely points out.
There is a vast difference between a sprint like a hundred-yard dash, and a twenty-six-mile marathon (or a 5k or 10k for that matter); for it means little to a long-distance runner if he or she covers the first hundred yards in ten seconds. While a burst of speed may be good, in the long run it is the ability to stick with it mile after mile that counts. In life, as I have learned over a “marathon” of time, winners are determined not by fastness, rather by steadfastness. So, “. . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”