The Determined Runner

October 11, 2018
Volume 22, Number 37

Christina Sanchez was running a half-marathon recently in New Jersey. While running mile 10 of the race, she learned a new meaning to the phrase, “The buck stops here.” A large buck – i.e. a male deer – came bounding out of the brush and crashed into Christina, knocking her to the ground. She reported that the deer struck her “in a blur of brown and white fur”.

The buck took off into the woods, probably as surprised as Christina. Emergency personnel examined her, and then gave the OK to resume her race. She crossed the finish line about 10 minutes later than she had hoped, but she finished her race. In my mind she clearly qualifies as a determined runner. Not even a buck could stop her!

Pheidippides was perhaps the ultimate determined runner. In 490 B.C. he is reported to have run from Marathon to Athens, a distance of 26 miles, to announce the victory won by the Greek army over the Persians. His message was welcome news: “Joy to you – we’ve won!” According to Lucian, a writer of the second century A.D., Pheidippides died immediately after finishing his journey and delivering the good news.

The apostle Paul used the imagery of determined running when he wrote about his death, which he felt was soon to come: “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

We are not told of any bucks running into Paul, but he faced many challenges that might have knocked others off the course: “From the Jews five times I received forty strips minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep …” (2 Corinthians 11:24,25). What kept Paul running after being assaulted so many times?

Paul was motivated by the message he carried far and wide – that salvation has been made possible by Jesus Christ. In Romans 10:15 he quoted the words of Isaiah 52:7: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” The people of Athens were surely thankful to hear the message Pheidippides brought, but Paul’s message is much more meaningful and enduring.

Now the question for you and me: Will we be determined runners? Jesus gave us the challenge: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). The message of the gospel is just what the Greek word for “gospel” means – good news. Millions need to hear this message. Let us be determined to proclaim it!

Come to the light God offers! Study His word, the Bible. Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.


Copyright, 2018, Timothy D. Hall. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version (Copyright, 1990, Thomas Nelson, Inc.).

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