Life is a Marathon


I enjoy running and have been running regularly since my early teens.  I don’t go as fast as I did but I can still go as far, it just takes longer.  I don’t mind, though, for running is about getting there, not about getting there fast.  I’ve learned the same thing is true in life as well.  As I look back on my life of ministry I can clearly see that life is a marathon, not a sprint, so it’s important to pace ones’ self.

The statistic that only one in 10 of those who enter ministry when young will retire from ministry is sad.  Many factors contribute to this, but lack of setting a proper pace often contributes in a great way.  The ministry is about quality, not quantity.  I know that’s hard to practice when starting out with everyone watching and evaluating you by what you do.  Just remember, God uses an entirely different yard stick to measure you by than those who watch you.

The apostle John was asked how he justified a hobby of raising pigeons when there was so much that needed to be done for the kingdom.  He got his bow and pointed out that, in order to be effective when needed, it couldn’t be tightly strung at all times.  A similar illustration goes back to whaling days.  The harpooner whose job it was to spear the whale was not allowed to join in the rowing which got the boat in position.  He has to be rested and prepared for the important work entrusted to him.  All Christians must pace themselves so they are sharp and ready for key events in life.

That doesn’t mean we are to be lazy or avoid hard work, but it does mean we are to pace ourselves so we can finish the marathon, not burn out before the end.  We must be a good steward of the time, energy and opportunities God gives us.  Even Jesus often said “no” to good things in order to be able to do the best.  He paced Himself, despite only having a little over 3 years to accomplish all that needed doing.   Those living for God today are often admired when they are very busy, as if that means they are important and productive in what will count in eternity.

Anyone can be too busy, and there will be times when it is unavoidable, but as a typical life style it is not what God wants.  He gives us 24 hours in a day so we know He won’t give us 25 hours’ worth of work to do.  If we have more to do than time to do it, we are doing things He hasn’t given us.  He wants us to include play, fun, relaxation and enjoyment as well.  God has created a beautiful world full of colors, sounds, smells and tastes for us to enjoy.  Are you doing so?

I’m retired, but I still keep busy ministering.  Age and health mean I can’t work as long and hard as I used to, but I can focus on what I can do best and enjoy most in ministry.  I don’t ever want to stop.  Quality wise I’m still productive.  I just need to pace myself properly.

The fable of the tortoise and the hare tale has always been one of my favorite stories and has shaped my life philosophy.   The tortoise beat the hare to the finish line in a race because it kept going while the hare would go fast, then stop for a while.  There’s a lot of wisdom in that story – consistency in a pace we can maintain over the long hall is the only way to complete the course.  Run with perseverance, not with speed!

Hebrews 12:1 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.

Luke 5:16  But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Eccl 3:1-2  There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:  a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,  …

If you keep going at the pace you are currently going at, will you last until retirement?  What changes should you make?

How do you determine a proper balance between work and relaxation?  Is your life balanced?  What does your mate or best friend say?



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