Summary: Communion meditation for May 7, 2006

One of things that I thought about doing in my 20’s was running a marathon race. There was something appealing and challenging about running 26 plus miles. (It’s not appealing now but I did think about it.)

I remember that as I ran during my college days, my endurance got better as I ran more and ran further. By my senior year, a run of 7 miles a day was commonplace.

I had begun as a sprinter and began to move toward middle distance in college until my schedule grew such that I did not have time for track and field. But I did learn there was a difference between being a sprinter and a distance runner.

(1) Just by looking at a sprinter and a (2) distance runner you see a major difference. One is lean and thin (not always) and the other is powerful and muscular.

Running a distance race and running a sprint is two different things. It requires a different approach to training.

I recently asked a friend of mine, who has done a great deal of running in her lifetime and is looking to move into coaching, the question, “As a runner and perhaps future coach what kinds of differences are there in coaching and training the two types?”

This is what she wrote, “Sprinting is all about power and quickness. All the drills and running and lifting you do is geared towards increasing your power and improving your quickness. With Distance running it’s about endurance and quickness. You should be able to run one to six miles at a time, but you have to be quicker than the other people in the race if you want to win.”

‘As far as coaching the two, sprinting requires more technique where distance is about tempo. You can be a distance runner and have not so great form (example: not picking your knees up or driving your arms), but if you’re running the 100 meter dash your form has to be really good (example: high knees, strong arm drive).’

In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Paul wrote, ‘Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.’

This time of year is a time when it is easy to think about finishing well. Graduation, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, and the traditional start of the wedding season, cause me to think about how well we live life.

(3) Communion is also a time to reflect on how well we are living and it leads me to ask some questions, ‘How are you staying true to God these days?’ (4) ‘How willing are you to finish well?’ (5) ‘How willing and able are you to run the race of faith?’

In John’s gospel account, especially in chapters 14 – 17, I think that Jesus was getting the disciples ready to run a marathon not a sprint as He encouraged them and challenged them to love and to be ready for opposition to their ministry and message that would be done in Jesus’ name. But more important is that Jesus promised the coming of the Holy Spirit to give them the power to do the work that they would be doing, in other words, to run and finish well, the race of faith.

John notes this in chapter 14 and verses 16 and 17, ‘And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world at large cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you do, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.’

We have spent the past month walking through the Easter story and again celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ and what that truly means for us. But, what about after Easter? What do we do, ‘in the mean time,’ between Christ’s return to the Father and His second coming? How do we keep going through life, which has its moments of discouragement as well as moments of joy, without giving up?

In Galatians 6:9 we are given one important answer to this question, ‘So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.’

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