Paul was a master at asking penetrating questions. One question that was especially gripping is what he asked the backslidden Galatian church in Galatians 5:7.
Allow me to paraphrase the verse: You were running so well! Who hindered you from obeying the truth?
Ouch, nothing like a little conviction to spark some inward reflection.
My friend Ann is a runner, but she is not just content with beating the pavement around her home near Houston.
She swims, she bikes, and she runs. If you haven’t guessed it, she’s a triathlete.
A few weeks ago, we sat in our church’s quiet nursery between services and had a good chat. Both of us had been in California that month, but for completely different reasons. I went to California to help a client and have a vacation afterward.
Ann? She went to California so she could Escape from Alcatraz.
I wasn’t very familiar with this race till Ann told me about it a few months ago. Here is how the official website describes it:
The Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon attracts World Champions, Olympic Medalists and the best amateur triathletes from 50 states and over 40 countries.
The 2018 Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon features a 1.5-mile swim from Alcatraz Island to the shores of the St. Francis Yacht Club, a grueling 18-mile bike ride, and a demanding 8-mile run through the trails of the Golden Gate Recreational Area.
Just a walk in the park, right?
If you’ve ever been to San Francisco, you’ve seen those hills. Imagine running and biking them in a race.
You’ve also seen that beautiful bay and Alcatraz Island in the distance. Imagine jumping off a ferry with 2,000 other people at the same time, into the frigid water, knowing that just two days prior to the race’s start a 12-foot great white shark had been spotted near the Bay Area, close to the swimmers and surfers.
If that had been me, I would have been out of there.
But Ann jumped into the bay, climbed up on her bike, endured the run and the infamous 400-step sand ladder, and didn’t let anything hinder her.
When I talked with her a few weeks after she got home, she hadn’t even looked up her times because it didn’t matter to her how she placed. All she cared about was that she had finished the race.
But what she didn’t know was that I already seen her times—and I knew that not only has she finished, but she had placed in the Top 10 for her division in the swim.
I also knew that she had run Escape from Alcatraz with broken toes on both of her feet.
Talk about hindrances that could get you out of the race.
Sharks. Hills. Sand ladders. Broken toes.
But what many people would consider to be insurmountable obstacles, Ann knew would be possible to overcome with God’s help. She could rely on God to run the race well simply because she relies on Him to run life well.
Life hasn’t been a walk in the park either for this 50ish-year-old runner. She lost her husband when he was just in his 40’s, leaving her a young widow with nine kids.
But she’s been a living example to me and to so many others of how to run well. Hindrances are a daily part of each race she runs—and in her life—but they don’t stop her.
She faithfully keeps her eyes on the finish line and her feet on the pavement.
And by God’s grace, she keeps running well.
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