by Sheila Presley Jones
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 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)Gabriela ("Gaby") Andersen-Schiess ran in the women’s marathon in the 1984 Olympics. Twenty minutes after the winner, Joan Benoit, crossed the finish line, Gaby staggered into the stadium. The crowd gasped in horror and disbelief when they saw her. Something was evidently wrong—badly wrong.
Gaby’s body was twisted, her left arm hung limp, and her right leg was seized. Realizing that she was in the throes of heat exhaustion, the medical personnel started out on the track to offer her assistance. To everyone’s dismay, she waved them off, knowing that if they touched her, she would be disqualified from the race—a race that seemed impossible for her to finish.
After an excruciating 5 minute 44 second final lap, she fell across the finish line and received medical help. Thankfully within a couple of hours, she was revived and doing well.
The apostle Paul was fond of racing metaphors when he spoke of the need to persevere in our faith and commitment to Jesus, no matter what difficulties we may face—physically, emotionally, spiritually.
How easy it would have been for Gaby to give up, to quit the race. No one would have questioned that decision. But she was determined, and she ran with perseverance.
Think of the obstacles that get in the way of you running the race. Sometimes life is just plain hard! Illness, the death of someone we love, financial setbacks, a difficult marriage, estrangement from our children, and much more.
We each have a race marked out for us. The particulars of that race are different from those of other people’s race. But God calls us to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Let’s encourage each other not to throw the towel in, not to give up on our faith when things get tough. Then at the end of a faithful life, we will be able to say with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7)