Calves burning, she wills her body forward. Beads of sweat have gathered on her forehead, on her hairline. Fists pump back and forth as the final stretch of blacktop lays before her like a red carpet. The cheering crowd takes second place to the thumping of her heart, the rhythm of her blood pulsing through her body, her head, her ears. Push, push. Her face is stretched back, her mouth is dry, but she keeps going, sees the end ever nearing. Almost there, almost there. Push, push. An euphoric tingle starts in her ankles, makes its way up to her knees, her shoulders, her neck. Her vision blurs as the noise of the crowd becomes sharper, louder. Her eyes narrow and she sees it. The finish line. Her muscles get the message and reenergize, pushing forward, propelling itself at will, finding the lost adrenaline in every pocket in which it was hiding as finally, finally the thin ribbon cuts into her chest, her arms as she tears through and slows to a painful, breathless walk, a steady pulsation of blood, sweat, saliva, tears. And her body starts the internal assessment of damage, begins making a list of repairs. Muscles, tendons, water level. Check, check, check. But she is finished. The race is won.
I wish I could say that I was talking about me. But the truth is, I haven't finished yet. I've barely even started. I got stopped a ways back. I couldn't catch my breath, my feet hurt, and I was getting blisters. I wasn't really ready for the race. And I knew I needed help. So, over the last 40 days, I got myself a personal trainer, my body became my slave, and I earned enough salt to buy a new pair of running shoes. I'm lacing them up now. I'm stretching. I'll run better now, I can feel it. And tomorrow, I hit the pavement once again. I may not be the best runner, but thanks to Pick Five, I'm better equipped now than I was 40 days ago. And I'm running with intent to win. For the glory of the Lord my God, and for the sake of His kingdom.
"I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." I Corinthians 9:23-27