Like many active people, I wear a Road ID. You know, the “if I collapse before the finish line, call…” bracelet. On it, I have a line from one of my favorite Bible verses: “Run with perseverance.” It’s funny what can happen when you see something frequently. I can look down at the bracelet as I am training and think to myself, “that says run with perseverance.” Then I go back to hating what I am doing, or wishing I hadn’t committed to doing whatever race is coming so I can stop in the middle of my workout. As the weeks before my race turned into days, I started to reflect upon why I had chosen that phrase to be on my bracelet. I would go to the Bible and study the verses –
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV) (emphasis mine)
The writer of Hebrews continues –
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. (Hebrews 12:3-4 NIV) (emphasis mine)
When I arrived in Augusta, the hype was high. Because I am a head case, I cannot feel support from others without simultaneously feeling pressure. “Oh, man. All these people believe in me. If I don’t finish for some reason, I’m not just letting myself down. I’m letting all these people down, too!” Truth be told, I was already planning my next move if I didn’t finish. “Well, I’m signed up for an Olympic in November. I can just upgrade to the half-iron distance then.” Well, what if I don’t finish THAT? Oh, dear.
pressure support was around to remind me to think positively. “You WILL do well. You WILL finish. You have trained enough. You’ve earned it.” While I think that focusing on the positive is absolutely necessary for sanity, I believe it’s also important to be real. Here is what is real:
1. While I have swum, biked, and run the full distances, I’ve never done them consecutively. I do not know what my body will do.
2. I do not know what the weather will do.
3. I do not know what Red Rocket will do. If she does anything other than move forward when I pedal, I won’t know what the hell to do with her.
There are a million things that could happen on race day. I have absolutely no control over the vast majority of them.
I stop to consider Jesus. Indeed, I have not resisted anything to the point of shedding blood. My charge is to run free – free from the things I cannot control. I cannot allow what may lie ahead to entangle what is immediately before me. This may sound strange, but knowing that there is no guarantee of my finishing helps me to race more freely. I am not guaranteed even one more stroke in the water, an additional hill, or one last step. My race is marked out before me, and it’s my job to get there because – while I don’t know that I can, I also don’t know that I cannot. God knows what lies ahead and is with me. I’m still living and therefore must press forward.
This medal would be pretty neat, but the most important battle is already won. Because of Him, I can run free.