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Crossing the Finish Line: “I Have Finished the Race”

I used to hate the Boston Marathon. Living in Boston on that day means crowds, traffic jams, no parking, road closures, detours, and lots of noise. Since I started to train for a marathon, I have changed my opinion. Boston is the greatest race, period. No matter where you run or who you are, Boston is the standard by which everyone is judged. The reason why is this. You have to qualify to get in. There is only a limited number of people who run that race. So the people who run Boston are committed, dedicated, and humble. Humble for this reason–training is based on failure. I do pull-ups until failure and pushups until I cannot do anymore. I do squat jumps until the lactic acid builds up in my legs, and I can do no more. Failure in training means you are totally and completely outside your comfort zone. That is how we progress; that is how we advance to the next level.

Training for a marathon is an eye-opening experience. One day a week, I do intervals. That is when I run around a track two times at the fastest pace I can. When I finish, I am tired, and my legs hurt, so I rest for sixty seconds and do it repeatedly. Then there are the hills. We discovered a hill in Jamaica Plain. It is a little less than a quarter of a mile. It gets steeper as you run up it. The last thirty yards are incredibly hard. There is a knee wall made of concrete at the top of the hill. I sit on it hunched over, gasping for air. When I no longer feel dizzy, I get up, walk down the hill and do it again and again and again till I can do no more. Then there is the long run. I get up at 4 in the morning while everyone is still asleep. Every run I do is a disappointment because progress is very slow.

I remember crossing the finish line of the marathon last Sunday. There was a screen, and my name was on it. Over the loudspeaker, I heard, “Peter Grover, Boston.” I wish every human being could have felt what I felt when I crossed the finish line. I tell you this because Paul said, “I have finished the race.” Paul is in prison, and he is about to go on trial. Things are not looking very good, and the end will be near. So he writes to Timothy. Timothy is a young and inexperienced pastor in Ephesus. Paul asks the pastor to come to see him finish the race. He wants Timothy to see what it is like to be committed and what it is like to be dedicated.

When I go to bed at night, I say to God, “I hurt today.” I hear God say to me, “Good, you were out of your comfort zone; you progressed today.” Then I will say, “Lord, I really struggled today.” And God replies, “You got strong. Then I will say, Lord, “I failed today.” And He will say, “Good, you are humble. I like you when you are humble.” If you can say that to God day after day, week after week, I guarantee that it will be the greatest moment when you cross the finish line of life.

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