A little over a month ago, I ran my latest marathon down a mountain outside of Las Vegas. I had signed up for this race in 2020 to celebrate the end of 3 years of legal battles and God’s deliverance from a really difficult season. But, the race was cancelled when the world shut down due to COVID-19. I deferred my entry to the race for another year, thinking the time to celebrate would come soon enough. And for the next 2 years, I waited for the legal stuff to end. Each day, as I was so tired of waiting and frustrated with the situation, I confessed to the Lord that I was holding on to the outcome and not giving it to Him. So, I would pray that I would let go and give it to Him. Two years later, the world started to open up again, and people started traveling again. I had recovered from a foot injury enough to train for a marathon again. So I signed up for the race, still not knowing whether I would have anything to celebrate.
And 2 years later, the legal battle finally ended in 2022—5 years after it started. The Lord moved a mountain in my life. Now, it was really time to celebrate.
Training went well, and I flew to Vegas to run the race. We started at 7,500 elevation and would end at 2,500 elevation, with these mountains around us. The morning was chilly and dark as I travelled to the start area. As dawn broke and I waited for the start gun to go off, I looked up and saw these snow-capped mountains surrounding me. I had prepared, trained, and gotten ready without a hitch. I was ready.
I started running the race feeling great. The rising sun peaked between the mountains and I was enjoying the scenery—so different from the suburban streets where I trained. After about mile 6, I felt a sharp stitch in my side. I backed off my pace a bit to adjust, but the pain only got worse. My stomach didn’t feel good at all. At mile 8, I had to start walking. I had 18.2 miles to go. How was I going to finish this race feeling like this?
After a mile or so of walking/jogging, when I felt a little better, I started running again. But the pain in my stomach soon returned. There was no relief. No matter what I did, my stomach was not going to let me run a faster pace without pain. I would walk a bit and feel better. If I ran for a bit, I would feel ok until I didn’t. I kept thinking, can I keep this up for another 17 miles? I was ready to be done, but the finish line was miles away. I felt overwhelmed at the thought of trying to finish this race. I wanted to quit. The miles of desert and mountains stretched before me. I said a prayer to press on, keep working to finish what I had started. Instead of thinking about all 18 miles, I took one mile at a time to finish the race. And that’s what I did.
Afterward, when I was thinking about what went wrong and what I could have done differently, I thought that the race was the perfect metaphor for the last 5 years of legal struggles. There was nothing to do to speed up the court system or bring about a faster resolution. I had to wait on God. Waiting is something so hard to do. Rhe only way to do that was to focus on one day at a time. Focus on what was right before me. When I felt my patience wane, I prayed that God would give me what I needed to wait and focus on that day.
“Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. are level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm.” Proverbs 4:25-26
This spring, my Bible study group studied Philippians, a great book on having joy no matter what our circumstances. Paul was a great example of that. Despite being chained to a Roman guard in Philippi and already having endured so many hard circumstances and painful trials, he still persevered through the trial he was experiencing when he wrote the letter.
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14
We can’t without some brain intervention forget what has happened to us. But we can instead keep turning our eyes to what is right in front of us. I didn’t have a plan for all the legal stuff. I focused on what was in front of me because that was the only thing I was able to do. And 1,825 days later, God brought my trial to a resolution.
I still don’t know exactly what happened during the marathon, but it served as a reminder of what He did during those 5 years moving mountains in my life that I thought were immovable.