I’ve been hiking with the Cleveland Hiking Club. And a lot. But, over the past month, I hiked a 15-miles, 20-miles and last Sunday, 26-miles (a Marathon!),
As I hiked on these long miles, I had a lot of time to think and to think about my relationship with God. I’ve been asking God for quite some time to help me develop a deeper relationship with Him. Attending classes are good. Attending service is good. Being in communion with the community is good. But, I was looking for something deeper. Well, wouldn’t you know He would use these long hikes to talk to me. On the 20 miler I learned firsthand what Fortitude, Endurance, Faith and Teamwork means. I learned what commitment means as I trained for these hikes. These are also Christian principles and values. You know, its one thing to sit in the classes and learn about these principles and values. Its quite another to live them.
- Fortitude – Courage in pain and adversity.
- Endurance – Power to endure an unpleasant or difficult situation without giving way
- Faith – Belief in a higher a power and yourself; confidence to carry on
- Teamwork – You can go farther as a group than by yourself.
- Commitment – Dedicating oneself to complete a goal
I now understand more fully the race and commitment that is required by a Christian.
12-14 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
15-16 So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.
1 Cor 9:24-25:
24-25 You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.
The marathon was something special. There are so many parallels between a course of this kind and the Christian walk. We started at 6:30am on Sunday at Shadow Lake Picnic Area in Solon. It started off smooth and easy. I even jogged part of it! Rather than being with a group of people, this was done mostly on my own. At the 7 mile mike, I hit construction and detour. Oh my. But, isn’t our walk like this. Things are going smooth and well, and then – wham – you hit road construction and a detour. But, through preserving, one gets back one path. At the 10 mile mark, after the construction and detour, was the first support station with juice, food and refreshments. And, isn’t God like this – after going through life’s detour, He will provide a support station for you.
And, I had 16 miles to go. At the half way mark was another support station in Chagrin Falls. And, God provides support stations along our personal walk so we can rest and freshen up so we can carry on with more vigor.
And, I needed that rest and freshening because I encountered hail at the Polo Fields. And, this was the most difficult part of the course because we had to hike the Buckeye Trail from the Polo Fields to Miles Road. It was muddy, had two stream crossings and hilly.
There were a few sections of the trail that was not marked well. Which path do I take? Which way do I go? On the Buckeye Trail, I used my map and handy-dandy compass to figure out the route. Another parallel to the Christian walk:
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
And, at the end of this part of the marathon was yet another support station. 20 miles done, 6 to go.
Wouldn’t you know it. The support station was at the base of a 3 mile hill I had to hike up. And, if you remember, Sunday was quite blustery.
As I crested the hill, there were a group of people waiting for me, as this being my first marathon. They wanted to make sure I finish so they hiked the remaining 3 miles with me. 23 miles done, 3 to go. And,isn’t it like God to provide encouragement along our personal journey.
As I crested the last hill, with the group with me, on top of the hill across the street, I looked up and there was the finish line with people cheering and clapping. I completed the marathon. I made it back home. I finished the race. There will be people cheering and clapping for us as we go home to Heaven.
2 Tim 4:7-8:
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now there is in store 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 longed for his appearing.