Time to Run

This is the time of year for marathons, before the heat of summer invades. Every major city seems to have one; even smaller cities host runs of various lengths. Perhaps the most famous is the Boston marathon; they’ve been doing it every year since 1897. This year’s race took place on April 16th with 26,948 runners; all but 5% of them finished. People come from all over the world to participate, including a good number who do it in wheelchairs.

Many of us are getting older and the thought of running a long race seems preposterous. While it’s certainly appealing to those who are young, some seniors actually run marathons. Eighty-five-year-old Katherine Beiers, a former librarian from California, was one of the last to finish the Boston marathon – but she did it!

The Scriptures compare the life of faith to running a race. In Hebrews 12:1-3 the writer says we must “lay aside every encumbrance” to do it. Runners don’t need baggy clothes or heavy footwear; they slim down and try to be as light as possible. Likewise, Christians disentangle themselves from sin and the distractions that come with it, and “fix their eyes on Jesus.” He crossed the finish line ahead of us, so we focus on Him and what He did. The secret of running a long race is endurance, for no one can do it by speed alone. It’s not a sprint, it’s carefully measured work. Many Christians forge into the life of faith in a hurry, but they don’t last. We live with determination and stamina. How you serve the Master at 70 years old is quite different than how you did it at 25.

The apostle Paul also spoke of running the race. “Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim” (1 Cor.9:26-27). He was always aware that he could easily veer off the track or give up entirely. “I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.” Let’s be aware of how far we’ve come in life as followers of the Lord and make sure we don’t give up in weariness as we approach the end. Jesus is waiting there for you.

Run with endurance.

– Tim Johnson


With several people in our congregation who like to run for exercise, let me tell you about Ed Whitlock. This runner is now 85 years old and lives in Milton, ON. He was born in England and began to run while in school. He broke many records competing in university, but gave it up when he moved to Canada. At 41 years old he started again. At 48, he ran a marathon in 2½ hours, then at age 72 he became the oldest person in the world to run it in less than 3 hours – a record he still holds. He didn’t stop there. At 81, he broke the world’s record for the half-marathon for a man his age. What possesses a man to run like that when most people in their 80’s just like to get out and take a nice walk? It has to do with the desire to excel.

Now, I don’t recommend that the seniors among start running races. But let’s think about the need to excel in our run towards heaven. “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” (Heb.12:1). Jesus wants us to live our lives in a way that radiates excellence and endurance. It doesn’t matter if you are 25 or 85, all of us can excel at living for Jesus.

If a man like Ed Whitlock can break records at an advanced age, surely we can excel in godliness, kindness, love and patience in life too. Run with endurance.

– Tim Johnson