This five-part series of posts is unapologetically Christian. But whether you are Christian, atheist, or don’t know what you believe about God, I think you will find in them food for thought and principles for personal growth. There are so many parallels between running an ultramarathon and the daily struggles and joys of our lives.
Tuesday’s Theme was Spiritual Unity and Teamwork (Using our individual talents to work together for God’s Kingdom).
“And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
“But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ” (1 Corinthians 12: 16-18, 12).
“For we are laborers together with God” (1 Corinthians 3:9).
Laboring together was a big part of my 100-mile race. It wasn’t enough that I studied the course and the rules. It wasn’t enough that I trained hard. These things were vital, but there was one more thing I needed to successfully finish this race—a good crew.
Every runner who attempts a 100-mile race knows the importance of a good crew. My family graciously agreed to crew for me—my husband Don; our son Aaron and his wife Sarah, (with their two-year-old daughter Marleigh); our daughter Elizabeth and her boys Kadan (eleven) and Kolton (eight). Before the race, my crew and I planned everything we could think of that I might possibly need. We typed up plans for each aid station where I would meet my crew, so nothing important would be overlooked.
Soon race day arrived. I was nervous, but I felt like I was as ready as I could be. My family and I held hands in a circle and prayed before we headed out. When we arrived at the race start area, I signed in and waited. Finally, the big moment arrived. The race director told us to go, and I trotted off with the rest of the runners toward unknown adventures.
At this particular race, my crew could drive and meet me at all but two aid stations. Those two were too remote for crew to access. Often, one of my crew (usually Aaron or Elizabeth and sometimes Kadan and Kolton) would hike up the trail to meet me as I got close to the aid station and run me in. Sarah made some awesome signs with encouraging sayings and scriptures on them. These lifted me up, and it definitely boosted my spirits to see my grandkids there to cheer for me!
When I came into an aid station, I sat down for just a couple of minutes while my crew took my bottles and filled them with ice and fresh fluid. They put ice in my bandana and my hat. (We had record-breaking high temperatures, and it got blistering hot out there!) They asked me if I had any sore spots or blisters. They asked me what I had eaten since they last saw me and what I wanted to eat now. (Fueling is critical for a successful finish.)
They made sure I had food in my pack. They kept track of what time I came into the aid station and what time I left. They told me how far it was to the next aid station. When I changed shoes, my husband cleaned the dirt off my feet, dried them carefully, and helped me put on my clean socks and shoes.
My crew worked together to get all these things done quickly. Then they got me out of my chair and moving back onto the trail. Usually, one of them would walk out with me and send me on my way.
But the most important thing my crew did was to BE there for me, and BELIEVE in me. Just seeing my crew was a powerful boost. As I was running, I could hardly wait to get to the next aid station to see them again. Thinking about my crew waiting there for me was like a giant magnet pulling me in. They provided invaluable encouragement, telling me I could do it even when I didn’t think I could go on. At my lowest point emotionally during the race when I was hurting, crying, and ready to quit, my daughter grabbed my hands and offered a beautiful prayer for me.
In this race of life, you need a crew! You need people who believe in you and who will encourage you not to quit, not to give up, but to stay on the straight and narrow way and keep doing what’s right!
Some of you are already blessed to have family and friends who are crewing for you in this life. If you do not, then make it a top priority to FIND a crew. Find a place to worship where you will be encouraged and supported. Make friends with fellow believers who will encourage you to attend church, to pray, and to read your scriptures so you have spiritual food for the next part of your journey—because fueling is critical for a successful finish! We all need someone in our crew who will hold our hands and pray for us when we feel broken and unable to continue.
Besides having a wonderful crew for my 100-mile race, I also had a pacer. As I mentioned before, this was an out-and-back race. Once I reached Silver City, I would turn around and head right back on the same trail to the start/ finish area. When I reached the halfway point, I could have my pacer with me the rest of the race! This is a BIG deal, because it meant I would never be alone again for the rest of the race. You can’t imagine how much difference that makes! Or maybe you can.
Our son Aaron was my pacer. He ran every step of the way back with me. Since Aaron has run two 100-mile races before, he understood my suffering. When the trail was rough and the night was dark, he was right by my side encouraging me. When I said I couldn’t possibly go on, he told me to just take the next step. Just put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward, no matter how slowly. He reminded me to eat and drink. He kept me on the right path. He told me how well I was doing. He told me I was going to finish.
You may feel like you don’t have a crew in this race of life, but let me assure you that you DO have a pacer. Whether we recognize it or not, there is a “pacer” for every single person in the human race. And you don’t even have to get to the halfway point before your pacer will join you. He is with you from the moment you are born and never leaves your side. If you will listen to Him, He will encourage you and remind you to get the spiritual food and water that you need. If fact, HE IS the bread of life and the living water!
Who is your pacer for this race of life? Yes, it’s JESUS! And since He came down to dwell in a human body, He understands your suffering. He has walked the path before you. He has promised never to leave you or forsake you. When the trail is rough and the night is dark and you are sure you cannot take another step, He is right by your side to give you strength to go on.
So remember—you don’t need to try to go through the rough parts of the trail alone. You have a crew and a pacer. That 100-mile race would have been impossible for me to accomplish on my own, but when my family worked together to help me, I did it!
What is impossible alone is possible when we work together! Working for God’s Kingdom is something we cannot do alone. It is all about working together, helping each other, loving each other, supporting each other.
Look around. Perhaps someone you know needs you to crew for them during a rough stretch of the trail. Each of us has been given unique gifts and talents that we can use to crew for others in this race of life.
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works; Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Next time—Spiritual Balance and Direction (Setting the goal and staying on course)