In it for the Long Haul

By: Dwain Neilson Esmond

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The mere mention of the word makes me tired. It is a word that wont give up its essence to anyone who is unwilling to sweat for it. If you don’t run wind-sprints on the football field, expect to be winded at the end of the game. Why? You lack _________________? Tired of endless fast-break drills and suicide runs at B-Ball practice? Then get ready for forth quarter leg-cramps and jumpshots that fall like rocks off the rim. Elite athletes know that without stamina, success becomes a game of chance instead of the natural result of hard work.

My friend James runs marathons. I saw him recently after not seeing him for a few months. In the intervening weeks he had run two marathons. Yep, he’s a stud! I won’t even bother to tell you what I did during that time. I know I ran my mouth quite a bit, but we’re talking marathons here—not mouth-a-thons.
“When did you start running,” I once asked him, stunned by how frequently he was out running long distances.
“Oh, about two years ago.” The answer hit me like a brick in a dark ally.
“Two years?!!!,” I screeched. “You have got to be kidding me?”
“No really. It’s only been about two years. But, I love it. I just started running, and now I can’t stop. I don’t feel right unless I run. I ran a few miles this morning,” his face still beaming from the runner’s high he got that morning.

As we talked, my friend told me how he developed his stamina. (He now runs ultra-marathons, some of which are more than 50 miles.)
“You know, I just try to train a little every day. Before you know it, your stamina begins to build and the runs get longer and longer.”
I was amazed at how casually he talked about absurdly long distances. Was it really that easy to run a marathon? Probably not. Marathons require training and hard work, and one more thing—love. If you don’t love running or the goal for which you are running, chances are you won’t finish a marathon. Stamina to do what you love comes from loving what you do, including the painful parts.

Here’s how one biblical runner described the end of his race: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8, NASB).

For a guy who used to be a pretty good sprinter, long-distance running is proving to be a big challenge. I find the same pattern in my spiritual life. I have bursts of white, hot moments with God, but then it’s over. I want to go the distance with God, but I have to run daily. I have to believe in Jesus Christ, study His Word, obey Him, and share what He’s given me. Might as well get after it, because I’m in it for the long haul.

How’s your run going?

About the Author

Dwain Neilson Esmond is a recovering sinner. He is a husband, father, friend, and author of three young adult devotional books, including 24.7.365: One Year in the Word. Dwain currently serves as the Vice President of Editorial Services for Review and Herald Publishing Association.

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