Tuesday - April 6th
Scripture to Read Today: Philippians 3:12-14
I press on toward the goal to win the prize
for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
The marathon is a long-distance race with an official distance of 26.2 miles 385 yards. The event started as a commemoration of the fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides, a messenger from the Battle of Marathon to Athens in 490 B.C. He ran to report the victory over the Persians to the Greek leaders.
Organizers of the 1896 start of the modern Olympics included the marathon as one of the core Olympic events. The distance of the marathon was standardized in 1921. More than 800 marathons are held throughout the world each year. Recreational, amateur athletes make up the vast majority of marathon runners worldwide.
The annual New York City Marathon holds the honor of being the largest marathon in the world each year. It has taken place annually since 1970 – usually on the first Sunday in November. The course goes through all five New York boroughs and passes all of the Big Apple's most famous sites. Each year between 40,000 and 50,000 runners cross the NYC marathon finish line.
I cannot stand running for a mile, so I admire those who eagerly prepare for and then run the 26 miles of a marathon. Runners live in their own world as they train and then take on these big races. They demonstrate determination, patience, drive, focus, and tenacity. Knowing their own bodies, runners tend to have their own strategy or philosophy of completing the long race without running entirely out of energy. Pace, speed, breathing, stride, and water in-take all become a part of their strategy.
I've never heard a marathon runner I have known personally or seen interviewed in the media talk about the importance of running forward as part of their preparation and strategy. Running forward, rather than backward, is simply assumed by participants and observers. It might sound silly to even mention that marathon runners go forward rather than backward. But, it is a critical part of the race.
In Philippians chapter three, the Apostle Paul uses the imagery of a marathon-like race to illustrate the Christian life. In verses twelve through thirteen, he emphasized the race's goal and that we move forward, leaving behind those things that would distract or weigh us down. This past year has seemed like an endless pause of so much in our lives. The pandemic paused our normal work routines, special times with family, visits to elderly parents and grandparents, in-person gatherings at church, high school and college graduations, and other vital rhythms of life.
As we emerge from the pandemic into a post-COVID world, some want to go back and pick up where we left off as the year of COVID began. So much has changed. While we certainly want healthy patterns present in our lives pre-COVID to be a part of our moving forward as individuals, families, and a church, going back is not an option. Intentionally moving forward, not backward, will be vital to living for Jesus in a post-COVID world.
This coming weekend, I will start a new series at Calvary titled "Forward: Living and Loving like Jesus in a Post-COVID World." Plan to join us as we explore what the latest chapter in our Christian journey looks like for each of us, our families, and our church. I am eager for the next mile God has for us in our race together!
Today, "press on" as Paul encourages us to do in Philippians 3:14. Lean into the Lord, your walk with Him and His church. Move forward in your own spiritual growth. Take a moment today to pray, "Lord, after the great reminder of your Son's resurrection this past weekend, I commit myself afresh to moving forward with and for You!"
The long marathon of the Christian life is set before us. Let's move forward together for the Lord's glory!