My daughter joined the school cross-country team this year, and one thing her coach would always say either in person or email is “Finish Strong!” Those words are easy to say, but in the heat of the moment, not always easy to execute.
My daughter learned a lot about endurance and perseverance in this sport; however, I think the most important thing she learned was pacing. The coach taught the team how to effectively pace themselves. She didn’t want everyone to run like a shotgun at the beginning of the race, quickly lose steam, and lag behind at the finish line. In pacing, the runners learned when to store up energy and when to use that energy to build momentum and ultimately finish strong.
As a spectator at the track meets, I observed familiar faces that always seemed to be the first to finish. I also observed a young girl, who I called the caboose. She gave it her all, and she was always the last to finish. I admired her stamina at each meet. Also, I was impressed with the camaraderie of her team who relentlessly cheered her at each meet even though she, predictably, was one of the last runners around the track. In my opinion, she finished strong because she did not give up.
When I think of pacing, I think of the scripture in Psalms 90:12, “So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
Personally, this verse reminds me to use pacing in my busy life. Once I suffered from a back injury, and while being forced to slow down, I picked up the scriptures, and I read this verse. I immediately knew that I wasn’t taking enough time for Him. Now, I ask myself, “Do I pace each day so that I devote enough time to read His word and apply this wisdom?” Frankly, when I don’t carve time out in my day for Him, I feel like I am missing something. It is as if I am driving without direction or purpose — and without my seat belt.
Scripture contains many references where the word “race” is mentioned. For example, in 1 Corinthians 9:24, it describes the race as follows: “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.”
Also, in Hebrews 12:1, race is mentioned again: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”
There were times when my daughter complained that she was sore after running, but each week with practice, because she endured with patience, her scores improved. She ran faster and with a little more ease. At the end of the session, she even received an award for the most improved score.
In my spiritual race, if I endure, my reward is eternal. What I often forget is that my Lord is carrying me through many of the obstacles I encounter.
I love this clip of Derek Redmond, a runner in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Redmond was predicted to win the race, but shortly after starting to run, he suffered a physical injury. In this heartwarming video, his father breaks through the crowd to come to his rescue.
Many times, our heavenly father rescues us and loves us just as the natural father in the video shows such compassion for his son. What impresses me most about this video is that the father lets go of Redmond at the finish line, and he lets him cross alone. At the end of the day, it is my spiritual journey and my personal relationship with the Lord that matters the most.
I will enter those gates alone, meeting my Lord and Savior, receiving the prize of eternal life. In the meantime, while running the course of life, the pacing I use to number my days and apply my heart to wisdom will ultimately allow me to finish strong!
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.