Wanted: Influence for the Journey

CRACK! The gun explodes.

Vivid memories of high school track remain with me…especially the 400 meter race.

Coming out of the blocks and into the first 100 meters, I hardly had to think. Arms pumping, knees high, cheeks relaxed (both sets!) as my spikes crunched on the cinder track. I flew around the first curve.

The next 100 meters brought runners closer together as our lanes evened out on the straight away. I sensed every runners’ position. I sought to focus my mind on my own pace, my form, my race.

But then … a huge brown bear jumped on my back …

Truly, it was like a massive weight suddenly clinging to my body as I passed into the third 100 meters. This was the out-of-body 100 meters! My legs felt cartoonishly sluggish. I labored to keep my stride long and my knees up as I rounded this final curve.

Onward! The final 100 meters then brought the cheers of the crowd! As suddenly as the brown bear clung to me, it disappeared! The boisterous screams of friends and family carried me the final meters to the finish line.

Spiritual Race

My faith journey frequently mirrors the 400 meter race.

Sometimes, I am completely filled with joy and enthusiasm. When I return from a mission or a retreat, I want everyone to know about Christ and His church. It comes as natural as the first 100 meters of my former track event.

Other times, though, I struggle to stay the course and to run my own race. Worship, reading scripture, and prayer become inconsistent.

The huge brown bear weighs me down on this leg of the journey. I am consumed with the things of this world: worry about my family, my job, finances, friends. My Lord is far from my mind.

When does joy return?

Answer: When surrounded and encouraged by the great cloud of witnesses, I find focus again. The boisterous cheers from the community where the Lord has placed me, both my church family and biological family, keep me in the race…even when I’m not too interested in people or in community.

But I must remain. My spiritual family encourages each step. Their influence undergirds the journey. Adrenaline pumps and my strides get longer. I get back into the race. I regain my form and focus.

I finish the race. I complete the tasks set before me.

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…
(Hebrews 12:1)

Your Turn…

Do you have a family of faith to encourage you? How do they support you?

What additional strategies help you push the limits and finish your race?

Posted by Sharon R. Hoover
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About Sharon R Hoover

Serving the church for over twenty years in discipleship and mission ministries, I've walked alongside many people travelling and exploring the journey of faith. Add in my own crazy path and I hope my writing will offer glimpses of life worth sharing.
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4 Responses to Wanted: Influence for the Journey

  1. Ron L says:

    “Good, better, best – never let it rest until your good’s better and your better’s best!” That was the crack of the vocal whip that my track coach snapped at us. The race was never a walk in the park and the bear still snagged us, but it was the practice that was dreaded and at the same time encouraging. Our coach attempted to prepare us for everything. “Let’s go pick flowers” still causes me to shudder. For the imaginary flowers that he wanted us to pick were on top of the hill. SO up the hill we ran and ran and ran. And when we thought we had enough, he called us to carry a buddy on our backs and up the hill we ran. When finished our coach graded the practice as “good” or at most “very good.” The practice tested our bodies – there is no denying, but it tested more inside. The practice was designed to strengthen our spirit. For every practice we survived encouraged us to use every developed gift that we had. When the race started, no matter how many were in the stadium we tuned to his voice and ran like we practiced. Oh yes, there was times when I lost his voice, stumped on the hurdle, and fell to the track. Yet, he was the first to pick us up and mend our spirit to run again. Three persons have replace my former coach, I hope this for all.

    • Hi Ron! Sounds like “flower-picking” added more than the beauty of God’s creation to your life! 🙂 What a creative coach and mentor you had! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story. Blessings!

  2. Rita Lang says:

    I’ve never been much of a runner physically, but I can relate spiritually. I’m always running spiritually, sometimes I stumble and trip over my feet, or veer off the side of the path, but Jesus, through His word and through my Christian friends always gets me back on track. My favorite part about running spiritually, everyone gets the prize as long as they stay in the race!

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