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As I sit down to write this morning, I am made aware of how long it has been since my last post. And as I look back on the last words I wrote, I realize just how fitting this moment is.

If you didn’t read my last post, I encourage you to check it out here. To summarize, I wrote a poem that compares our lives, especially a life of faith, to the weary trial of running a long distance race. In the moment of writing that poem, I definitely felt like my life was akin to the drudgery of running a marathon; that is, a marathon in the middle of a desert where the sun beats down on your already-scorched shoulders, and there is not a drop of water in sight.

Well, let me just say that as of yesterday, I have finally crossed the finish line. Have you ever had that experience?

If you are truly running a race, then you are not keeping the pace of a leisurely jog. No. You are all out, give it all you got, don’t stop ‘til you drop running. And when you finally do reach that finish line, you do indeed drop.

I have a sense of relief from knowing that my two week stint of non-stop “GO” is finally finished, but I have to be honest; I feel like I hit a brick wall… literally. I couldn’t move this morning. It’s as though my strength has left me. I’m groggy, and I have no motivation. Please don’t think I’m complaining. That is not the intent of this post by any means. These are all physical signs of fatigue from a very real spiritual, mental, and physical race in which I chose to participate. And just as in a long distance race, I had much time to reflect and learn during my time on the trail. That’s what I’d like to share with you.

Here is one thing I’ve learned. As a whole, our life is a race, just like Paul talks about in the book of 1 Corinthians. There is a goal; there is a prize at the end of this journey—the promised land. But the thing to remember is that this life-long race is made up of many smaller ones, similar to the way a triathlon is broken up into three legs. But our race has many, many legs. And each race is made to strengthen our bodies and prepare us for the next race. And as I sit here panting on the other side of the finish line, I glance ahead, and guess what I see? The start line of the next race. Sigh.

Here is what I’ve come to realize. While we run to win, we must have a strategy. We cannot as Paul says, “run aimlessly.” We must find and develop our “race pace.” Our race pace is our place of optimization; it is the pace we can maintain while continuing to make aggressive progress. It is a pace that is forged over time and becomes faster with each successful race we complete. It is not an easy pace, but it is sustainable.

As I take a sip of water and continue catching my breath, I consider this next race before me. I was not surprised to see that start line. I have seen it looming ominously in the distance for the last several races now. But it is only now, after finishing the previous race, that I am finally prepared for the one ahead. I am ready to go. I don’t know exactly what this leg of the race looks like yet, but I know I will get a clearer vision with each piece of ground I cover. I may stand alone at the start line now, but I know I will not be alone at the end.

I wipe the sweat from my brow, lace up my shoes, and start stretching; this is going to be one hell of a race.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. {1 Corinthians 9:24-27}