09 August 2020

Me, a marathon runner? Nah! Or am I?

We all started out as babies, and almost every one of us learned to move, then to turn over, to crawl, to toddle, to walk, to run.

Some of us went on to run in school races. Some to school competitions, inter school competitions, regional competitions, provincial competitions, inter-provincial competitions, national competitions, international competitions, and a small number to a global arena like the Olympic Games!

Some of us ran because our parents encouraged us to. Some ran because our friends ran and we were just following the crowd. Some ran because we became seriously passionate about it and because the runners' high was so - well, worth it!

Running is wearying... It comes with discomfort, sore muscles and blistered feet, sweat and probably tears.

Whatever the reason that we ran, we would have felt some benefits of running. These include the runner's high, feeling good about the achievement (improved self-esteem), burning calories, shedding and burning fat from the body - and keeping it off, and low-cost exercise... An internet search for 'benefits of running' shows that there are many other benefits to physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health from running.

I never was a marathon runner, but I did participate in inter-school badminton (and I was not particularly good in inter-school cricket...) and so I can relate in a small way to the satisfaction that comes from working at sport. I did some cross-country races, sprinting, hurdles, high jump, and other athletics at school, but I was not passionate about that. But I do take off my hat to those who have a passion for, and who excel in, running marathons and other great achievements.

But - can you consider someone who regularly ran marathons, initially because her parents expected it of her while at school, then her peers dragged her along, then she became a self-starter and ran for the love of it. And she really loved it! She has certificates showing her accomplishments. She has several witnesses to the fact of her running, completing gruelling marathons - and loving it! But life changed. She lost interest, stopped exercising, stopped enjoying the benefits of running, and even became very deriding of anyone who runs. She denies that she enjoyed it. She always blames her parents for making her run against her will. She has become flabby and insulting of those who run, telling of many important reasons to not run - why no intelligent person would run.

Does that sound like a story that I concocted, or are there people like this? Do you know people like this?

Paul related Gospel living to running a race (1 Cor 9:24, Heb 12:1) and says of himself that he had 'fought a good fight' and finished his course (2 Tim 4:7). I have known so many people who have run valiantly and have medals, certificates and witnesses to prove that they ran spiritual races. The evidence attests that they ran with great passion and success while they were in trim spiritual condition, exercising every day by studying, pondering, praying, fasting, obeying the commandments, and that they had felt that spiritual runner's high. They personally spoke of their love for running spiritual marathons. 

I know that there is a real spiritual scientific experiment that has been conducted by thousands of people. They have studied the subject, applied the method, tested the promises, obtained the results, and reached the conclusion that the method is sound and the results are consistent. I know that if anyone will follow the same method and apply the same tests that they will obtain the same results and draw the same conclusions. 

Despite all of this evidence, there are people who have never conducted the experiment who are certain that the results are false and the conclusion is erroneous. There are those who did conduct the experiment and who experienced the results and bore personal testimony that the results were sound and true, but have changed their mind after ceasing to live the way that yields the results of spiritual health and well-being.

So - while I was never a marathon runner like the tens of thousands who run the Two Oceans or Comrade's Marathons in South Africa, or the over 800 marathons run throughout the world each year and almost on a weekly basis, I guess that I can say that I have been running a spiritual marathon for just about all of my life. There were times when it was because my parents encouraged me, or friends were dragging me along, but most of it is because I have kept going because I have felt the benefits of maintaining that level of spiritual fitness - and revelling in the runner's high.

I have come to know God. At school, church and university I learned about the scriptures, religion, god, evolution, natural selection, and other philosophies. Through my personal study and exercising my faith I have come to know God and that the scriptures are His word to us. I hope that I shall always keep myself in spiritual peak condition so that I can continue to feel the spiritual runner's high. It is a wonderful feeling - and it can only be appreciated by personal experience - no-one can adequately describe it to persuade anyone that it is worth the effort required to experience it. I hope that this inspires you to work on being spiritually fit so that you will enjoy the benefits of running our spiritual marathon in order to reach the finishing line with honour. I know that it is worth every effort!

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