“Hilgemann! You’re running the 400!”
It was my first and only year running track in high school. We were at a track meet at a rival school and we were short handed. And these were not the words I ever wanted my coach – who we affectionately called “Coachie” – to throw my direction.
I am not good at running long distances. Most runners run like a steam engine. They set a steady pace and chug along until they finish. I run more like a bottle rocket. I shoot off to a quick start and then everything goes up in flames!
Coachie was glaring at me waiting for an answer. I replied, “But Coachie, I can’t do that. I only run the 100.” Coachie just stared into my eyes hard enough to burn a hole in my head and said, “You can, and you will. Otherwise our team won’t get any points and we will lose this track meet! You don’t want us to lose this track meet, do you?” So I hesitantly agreed to run.
I lined up at the starting blocks next to the other more experienced runners. The gun fired and I immediately kicked into sprinter mode. Running as fast as I could, I flew past my competition at record-breaking speed. The other runners were eating my dust!
As I rounded the first corner of the track I realize that nobody was even close to me. I thought to myself, “Maybe I’m not so bad at this after all! I am crushing these fools!” And that’s when the bottle rocket burst.
As I began to round the final turn I started to feel funny. You know that felling you get when your foot falls asleep? Well, that happened to me… except to my FACE! My tongue dropped out of my mouth and my eyes started twitching.
Determined to win, I continued to run as hard as I could. But the numbness began to spread to the rest of my body. As I hit the final straight away I slowed to a crawl. My legs felt like jello. My arms flopped at my sides like wet noodles. I started zigzagging all over the track. The way I was running and flailing my arms, I was told I looked like a rabid chimpanzee being attacked by a swarm of killer bees.
With the finish almost in reach, my body shut down. The other runners flew past me as I slowly wobbled across the finish line, collapsing on the track. I lost the race.
I have learned that life is a lot like long distance run. If we aren’t careful, we approach life like I approached my race. We run too fast and then we burn out. We load up on too many expectations. We take on too many responsibilities. We don’t pace ourselves.
We feel like things should be moving faster:
My career should be further along.
I should be married by now.
Why can’t I get pregnant?
My financial situation should be better.
Why hasn’t God answered my prayers yet?
I just feel stuck.
We get impatient. We get anxious. We get caught up trying to make things happen faster than God intends.
When we get caught in this trap, we cannot underestimate the power of taking one step at a time. Just keep moving. Keep plugging away. Keep heading in the right direction.
Eventually things will get better. If you run too fast you are going to hit a wall and lose. Slow down. Pace yourself. And don’t give up. In time, you will succeed.
Let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
– Galatians 6:9
Where do you need to slow down and pace yourself?