Training for a Marathon; Competing in a Sprint

by DanWolgemuth on October 31, 2014

It was 1924 and Scottish athlete Eric Liddell was perfectly prepared for the race of his lifetime. The 100 meters was Eric’s specialty and the Olympics in Paris would serve as a perfect platform to showcase his talent.

That was until Eric discovered that the preliminary heats for the 100 meter race would be held on a Sunday. This grated against his Christian conscience so severally that he opted not to compete. Instead, Eric was entered into the 400 meter race. This middle-distance race was a length that favored others ahead of Liddell. In fact, his best times in the event were mediocre on the global scale.

While in the starting blocks of the 400 meter race at the Paris Olympics, a member of the American support delegation slipped Eric a piece of paper that contained a portion of a verse from 1 Samuel 2:30. It read: “for those who honor me I will honor.”

The sound of the starting gun harmonized with the message from the scriptures and Liddell not only won gold, he also did it in world record time.

Eric Liddell excelled on an international scale at a distance that wasn’t his expected specialty.

The vivid lesson of this athletic accomplishment didn’t fully come into focus for me until a few days ago.  On Tuesday morning I received a note from my brother, Robert,  that his wife, Bobbie, had pulled her last molecule of oxygen out of our atmosphere. Bobbie was now in the presence of a God who loved her and commended her.

Bobbie was only 64 years old, and a very young 64 at that. Her two and a half year battle with cancer had only intensified the impact of her life on the many people she encountered.

I have no doubt that five years ago, Bobbie and my brother, Robert, were training for a very different race; a longer race. Yet, in 2012 when news of stage four ovarian cancer smashed into their reality, Bobbie began training for a different race; a shorter distance, but a significant and meaningful race.

With dreams of an extended marathon obliterated, Bobbie, with Robert at her side, trained in earnest for the race set before them. Many of us prayed for an extra lap or two or three… but God knew, and so did Bobbie, that this was her race; her distance.

Bobbie faithfully poured herself into every stride until she hit the finish line. Every stride.

Indeed, a race shorter than many of us wanted, and perhaps a race that Bobbie hadn’t considered to be her event… that is until her Father made it clear, this was His plan, His design for her, for Robert, for their girls, for their sons-in-law and their grandchildren. It was also a powerful lesson for thousands of others; and for me.

We are called to run the race that He sets before us, even if it’s not the distance we had expected or trained for.

Faithful. Obedient. Passionate. As we run our race on our Father’s course.

“Those who honor me I will honor.”


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