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FINISHING THE RACE
Congratulations to Lyn and Joanne West of Dedham for completing the London Marathon recently (see p. 4). Their achievement, along with the 40,000 other runners, was that of overcoming the great physical challenge of the race, and also of doing it in the service of others through their fund-raising for a charity, which is such a feature of the London race. As one who would struggle to run a mile, I certainly admire those who can run more than 26 of them.
Of all the qualities that it takes, fitness and focus being among them, it is possibly endurance that makes the greatest difference. I have written before about a boyhood hero of mine, the marathon runner Jim Peters, who showed his very great courage by the demonstrating his endurance under great pressure.
Though I have never run a marathon, nor indeed any running race since I left school (with the notable exception of the Fathers' egg-and-spoon race at Dedham Primary School) the quality of endurance is one I have long sought to develop. There is a proverb that speaks of a low-gear stickability that makes for endurance: It's dogged as does it.
Not that I have always seen myself as having the determination of the Tortoise (as from Aesop's fable), for there was a time when I had a greater similarity to the Hare - dashing here and there and being distracted by many things along the way. Age has something to do with it, perhaps, but more than that it is about our character and purpose. We inherit some traits and are given some early experiences by circumstances, over which we have little control, but we develop a character that shapes who we are largely as a result of our priorities. Or, as one wit has put it, 'We become like the god we believe in'.
The Letter to the Hebrews is one of several in the New Testament that uses the idea of a race as having something to say about our lives. The writer clearly saw how 'things can get in the way' when he wrote: 'Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.' (Hebrews 12: 1).
I invite you to use the Christianity Explored course beginning this month (see p. 4) to help you regain spiritual fitness and focus - and thereby to strengthen your spiritual endurance.
Vicar & Lecturer