Just when you think you cannot go any farther . . . you can!
Marathon runners are a hearty lot. Anyone who can keep their body in motion for 26.2 miles has my admiration. Sure, I ran cross country in high school, but that distance is a game of hopscotch to the marathon tribe.
When I did run, I remember my coach telling us, "Running is 50% mental." I hear you coach, but can you tell that to my lungs. I don't think they got the message.
My body's protest to the contrary, galloping with the human herd over a course measured in miles not yards IS a mental effort. And the biggest hurdle (so I'm told) is “The Wall.”
Athlete and journalist, Michael Bane writes:
The Wall is a legendary thing. Usually encountered around mile 20, it's the point where the flesh weakens, the spirit sags and the will drains away into a little puddle on the ground. Legs turn to melting Jell-O and breath comes in short, gasping gulps.
Reflecting on Bane’s words, I realize that running is not the only place we encounter “The Wall.” Life is a marathon. Each us will hit that demoralizing 20-mile wall:
- What exasperated parent hasn't hit the wall?
- What disheartened lonely sojourner hasn't hit the wall?
- What employee, frustrated by heavy-handed boss, hasn't hit the wall?
- What cash-strapped and credit-burdened person hasn't hit the wall?
- What soul, energy-drained by sickness, disease, or injury, hasn't hit the wall?
- What child of God, wandering or wondering, hasn't hit the wall?
Today, I'm sitting in a Pasadena coffee shop. An endless stream of grim-faced, ear-budded, phone-memorizing, caffeine-starved patrons line up to cuddle their morning brew? I wonder, "How many have hit the wall? More importantly, do they know how to scale it?"
If you are running that 26.2-mile grind, Mr. Bane has some great tips for you. But when it comes to the marathon of life we need another expert to help us with the race that is measured in people and projects and pain. His name is David.
David knew what it was like to run –- literally and figuratively. He ran from Saul. Later in life he ran from his own son, Absalom. Some days David ran for God. Some days David ran from God. Along the way he encountered walls of temptation and seduction, heartache and hassles, pressure and pain. David also learned the strategy to break through these walls. Here is his secret:
Okay, so you are not staring down an imposing militia. Still, I've got a hunch that an invading army of appointments and responsibilities and disappointments is charging your way. They are going to pummel your faith and hold your emotional health hostage. So how do you turn back these strength-sapping marauders? How do you leap over the walls--real and imagined--that make this marathon called life so exhausting?
On your own you can’t. But with God’s help you can top any wall you face. Why not rewrite David's psalm? Make it your own song declaring the wall-scaling power of God. Go ahead, try it:
- With my God I can scale the wall of fatigue.
- With my God I can scale the wall of heartache.
- With my God I can scale the wall of frustration.
- With my God I can scale the wall of the big project at school.
- With my God I can scale the wall of impatient customers.
- With my God I can scale the wall of disappointment.
You get the picture. Just when you think you cannot possibly go any farther – you can!
There is a Strength to match every step in your run today. It comes when you look up, cry out, and rest in God's power to scale what you cannot.
Put David's strategy into practice. Walls will topple. God will give you strength to reach the finish line.
- "The wall is a legendary thing" from Men's Fitness, April 1999.
- If you want to hang onto this truth a little better, try this: Every time you see a wall let it remind you of the wall you face, and more importantly, of God who alone can help you scale it. Thank him for his sustaining power and ask him for a fresh filling to break through your wall today.