|Life is a Marathon,
but the Finish is Heavenly!
© Betty Sue Eaton
|A Christian Grief Ministry
Many years ago, my husband and I and all our family made regular visits to our cabin in the
foothills above St. George, Utah. We loved the peace and quiet of the remote countryside.
Fishing and exploring the low mountains of the region was a favorite pastime of ours and we
indulged in it each time we went to Utah. The ambient temperature was typically 10 to 15
degrees lower than that in Las Vegas where we were living at the time, and each escape to
the cabin was a refreshing two-day respite from the 110-degree weather that was woefully
On one particular trip, a horrendous noise awoke us about 4 o'lock in the morning. We
leaped out of bed trying to determine what was going on. Looking in the direction of the
uproar, all we could see was a bright orange reflection in the sky, much as would be present
in a forest or wildfire. We had seen some of those; and on this morning, the possibility struck
terror in our hearts.
Then we heard a blast from a very loud air horn and people screaming and shouting. We
could understand nothing being yelled, but there seemed to be hundreds of people down on
the highway just across a small gulley from the cabin. So mesmerized, we watched what was
going on. Finally we determined it was a gigantic meeting of marathoners readying for the
St. George 28K Marathon! The gathering began at 3 a.m., and the start of the race was at 5
a.m. sharp! So for the next hour, we were entertained with the ebb and flow of humanity
Not only would the twenty-eight miles of roads leading to St. George be filled with racers for
hours, the roads themselves would be closed to automobile traffic until the runners arrived in
town! And it was the only way we could get into town! However, trying to be good sports, we
endured the hindrances and waited for the results to be announced. After that day, we
made ourselves aware of the 28K Marathon day and planned accordingly.
When you think about it, life, itself, is like a marathon. However, there is one huge
difference: We begin our life-long marathon with no training for what we are about to face.
There is no manual about physical or mental preparation and training for such an ordeal! We
can't be aware of the sudden changes in the terrain along our journey that might cause a
shin-splint or turned ankle. A necessary move to another town, another school, another job
is very much like an unexpected rise or dip in the raceway that trips us up momentarily.
We never know when the weather is going to turn hostile. The work site has an unexpected
layoff and throws our lives into turmoil of uncertainty much like a tornado warning coming to
pass with our home blown away. Nothing appears fixable and no one seems to care.
How could we possible know about the dehydration that occurs after only a few minutes of
steady running? Our spirit lags and God seems to have forgotten us when our children are
threatened with catastrophic illness. Nothing can ever take the place of a child of our own
flesh and blood who is taken away by disease we could not control.
But the worst thing is the actual distance in steps, falls, injuries, and broken hearts that we
must survive to finally make the grand finish line and take the prize for the win! We can
restore our lives after a move; we can replace furniture after the havoc of a tornado. How
can we ever regain stability after losing one of our children? How can we ever get back into
the race of life, the marathon we are entered into the day we are born?
Being a Christian helps us run our life's marathon because we have God running with us.
When we falter and say, "I can't make it!" God says, "I will give you strength." When we say,
"It's too hard!" God says, "My strength is sufficient." When we say, "I'm too sad to run." God
says, "I will give you rest." Life is exactly like the St. George 28K! The only difference is that
God is running with us, leading us, supporting us, encouraging us, and in the end, awarding
us the prize: Salvation and an eternal home with Him in heaven!
How we run our marathon determines whether or not we cross the finish line to Heaven. The
only way is by believing in God, that Jesus died for our sins and has a home waiting for us
when we finish our race here on earth. We should never forget that we are running with the
whole human race, and we must stop and help those who have fallen by the way, those who
need a refreshing drink of water; those who need encouragement and faith in the finish. I
have friends who have gone on before me who ran their race as though there were no finish
line. They were always looking for those to help along the way regardless of their own loss
of time at their finish. God said "When you do this for the least of these, (my children), you
do it for me."
If you have lost a dear one and find that your grief has stopped your race, listen to what God
tells us. He says that when we are weary, He will give us rest; when we are sad, He will
give us peace that passes all understanding. When we are lonely and missing our loved
ones, God says, I will never leave you. When we say we cannot manage without our loved
ones, God says I will supply all your needs. Listen to Him for He promised that He would
always be there, and He will hear your heart cries even before you utter them. I know He will
because He promised, and He never forgets a promise to one of His own.
God bless you in your grief. ~ Betty