Monday, January 18, 2016

Special Needs Marathon

Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 

Hebrews 12:1 NLT

Have you ever been so tired you weren't sure you could keep doing life? I have felt this way many times!

That's when I like to remind myself of a life-changing race I ran. :)

Flash back 37 years ago: My husband, Jeff and I were dating. He was a runner. I was not. But I wanted him to be impressed so I started running.  I actually started enjoying it and could run 2-3 miles. I don't think I impressed him (he ran marathons at the time) but I impressed myself and learned that just putting one foot in front of the other, I could finish something I never dreamed was possible.

After 3 months of running, Jeff thought we should run a race together.  He signed us up for a 10,000 meter race to finish at the NCAA Division 1 Track and Field Finals.  Cool.

Then I found out 10,000 meters is 6.2 miles!  Not cool.

Jeff assured me it was no big deal. If I could run 2 miles I could run 6. (That - my friends, is crazy thinking from a marathon man.)

But I was young and in love and so naive'.

The day of our race was beautiful. Thirty minutes before the main race began, a starting gun signaled the beginning of a "pre-race" - It gave a 30 minute head start for people with disabilities who were racing in wheel chairs!   I didn't think much about it at that time but this experience would prove to be a pinnacle lesson that would revolutionize how I thought about life.

On your mark.  Get set!  BANG!

And we were off.  The first two miles were easy.  The third mile and I was ready to be done. D-O-N-E- done!   That's when I started telling Jeff exactly what I thought about him tricking me into signing up for a six mile race! We weren't even half way done and I truly didn't think I could keep on going. My side ached, my shins hurt, I was out of breath and low on confidence.

Jeff said, "Babe, I'm with you every step of the way. Even if you have to quit running to walk, you're going to be able to finish.  You can do this!  Just keep putting one foot in front of the other."

So I did.  Partly because of pride.  Partly because there was no other choice.  And partly because I wanted to finish the race!

The fourth mile marker came into sight. I could breathe better but was still hurting. Every step was a determined effort.

The fifth mile marker came into sight and I realized I was going to make it. I began to see past my present misery.

As we were approaching the 6 mile marker, I saw a man relentlessly pushing his wheelchair- obviously in pain but determined to finish.

As I pulled even with him, he smiled and spoke before I could say anything.  

"Great job! Keep going! The finish line is just ahead."

Embarrassed by his positive words  when I had just wasted 2 miles complaining, all I could manage was, "Thanks. You, too!"

His words, his spirit of joyful endurance stirred me.  I got a 2nd wind. I began to pick up my pace.  Then I saw the stadium not far ahead.  I could see people going in to finish their race and I heard the crowd cheering.  I could envision the finish line.  All thoughts of complaining and weariness left as I focused on the reward- reaching the finish line. 

I began sprinting the last 100 yards.  Exhilarated I looked at the time and was wonder filled that I had done this thing- I hadn't died- or collapsed- or crippled myself.  I was filled with shame I had complained so much.

I turned to Jeff and said, "Now that I know how long this race is, I know I could do it faster and better the next time."

Precious parents: especially parents of children with special needs.  Life is a journey of daily relying on Jesus AND fixing our eyes on the finish line.

Life is a marathon- not a sprint.

Our Savior and Friend is with us every step of the way!

 Wrap your mind around that! 
God is with us EVERY STEP OF THE WAY. 

He doesn't care if we run, jog, walk, crawl, claw, or push ourselves in a wheel chair.

We don't know how long our race will last- but all we really have to do is walk with Him and put one foot in front of the other. 

He is with us, strengthening us, encouraging us, and cheering for us. We're surrounded by others who have run the same race we are running and they are a testament that it can be done.  And how much better to do it joyfully.

I think I learned Life is really about not missing the joy of our daily journey while keeping our eyes on the finish line.

I know life is hard- but I also know there is a beautiful ending point.  Weeping and Pain my last for the night- but JOY comes in the morning.  
photo credit- A Well Rounded Woman

We can do one more step with His help. And we can do it with purposeful joy!

No regrets. No looking back and wish we could do it over and do it better.  We jut have do the best we can with the journey we've been given!

When we get overwhelmed with all our responsibilities and endless list of care-giving- STOP- Fix your eyes on the finish line: Our 
endurance will be crowned with His glory.

Prayer: Lord, you know our frailty- our limits- our weaknesses. We rejoice You are the giver of the strength we need to endure each and every part of our race. Help us take one step at a time.  We thank and praise You for taking us forward. Inspire our heart and mind to be fixed on the finish line and Your words- "Well done."

Cindy Barclay

1 comment:

  1. We must never stop running the race for the Prize is so much more precious than anything else.