This last month I found myself captivated by a group of men from Iowa. They were sharing their journey to complete the Leadville Trail 100 ultra-marathon. Leadville is an old mining town in Colorado. When it started experiencing economic hardship, a miner came up with the idea of a 100-mile race. It would be run through the most rugged wilderness of the Rocky Mts. He wanted to make the town famous.
It’s easy to see why the town wanted to create this race. I have a harder time understanding why someone would want to run it. There really is no reward other than a sense of accomplishment. Surely, one can gain a sense of accomplishment without trying to destroy your body. Besides, none of these men were really lacking in this area. They were presidents and vice presidents of companies. Business managers, a college professor and a globally recognized athlete.
They willingly placed on their shoulders a difficult task to speak to people whose difficult task is not a choice. The message was to not give up. The group formed a community which provided support to compete and a spiritual base for life after the race. One runner commented, “We knew going into it that it was every man for himself, but I definitely wouldn’t have done it without everybody’s help.” It’s a wonderful commentary on life.
I thought of these men when I read, “So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.” (1 Cor. 9: 26-27) Paul is focused on running towards an imperishable reward, life.
We are daily beating ourselves up; physically, emotionally and spiritually, often without realizing it. Those cheese curds at the fair tasted good, but might not have been the healthiest choice. Unhealthy anger over political commentaries on Facebook, probably does not help my blood pressure. The loneliness and vulnerability so many often experience is not a path towards hope.
What is the race you are running? What is the prize? Is it perishable or imperishable? I pray you understand faith is not a race with a reward at the end. But a daily encounter with hope, so that you might live a joy-filled life. (1 Cor. 9: 16-19; 22-27)