~By: Jeanne Litke~
I don’t know about you, but I have never been self-motivated, especially when it comes to exercise. My sister, on the other hand, both enjoyed and excelled at running in high school and in college. To this day, I remember how hard she trained and listened to her coach and always put in the time and effort necessary to achieve her goals as an individual and on a team. This stuck with me, and in my early thirties, I decided to enter my first half marathon. The thing is, I was born with a birth defect that kept me from being able to run. Nonetheless, my sister encouraged me by saying, “So you can’t run, but you can walk!” It never crossed my mind that I could until she believed in my ability to do so. So for five long months, I showed up at the track and we trained. I started by walking just to get the oxygen and blood running through my body and strengthening what needed to be strengthened first - my heart.
The walk of faith is not very different. Just as physical endurance requires a strong and healthy heart, so does our spiritual endurance. But, this is not accomplished all by ourselves. We need others to teach, train, and encourage us.
When the day of the half marathon arrived, I was both nervous and excited, but I knew I was ready to go. I had put in all the necessary training that my sister/coach had instructed me to do. Now, she was ahead of me within sight wearing a shirt that said on the back, “YES YOU CAN!” She was my pace setter, and I knew that as long as I could read that shirt in front of me, I was going to finish the race within the allotted time. Four hours and 45 minutes later with only 15 minutes to spare, I crossed the finish line. I was elated and exhausted. My sister and mother flanked both sides of me in support and encouragement. I will never forget what my sister instilled in my psyche from day one - which was to teach me, “You are an athlete.”
We are all disciples who are to set the pace and disciple others. Jesus is our forerunner who we are to follow at close range. We have been given the Holy Spirit as our ever present Helper that keeps us “on track” so that at the finish line, we have the hope of hearing, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23). I don’t know about you, but that’s a race I am willing to run, or in my case walk. See you at the finish line my dear sisters in Christ.