Running isn’t exactly for everyone. Many of us might have memories from our younger years, participating in the elementary school field day activities. That end-of-the-year celebration where everyone gets a ribbon for attempting a track & field event. But for some of us, at least, either age, or agility, or simple lack of interest keeps us from running with any frequency.
I’ve never been much of a runner myself. I’ve tried. But the “runner’s high” that’s so talked about has been elusive, if not altogether absent, in my training. I think I’ve finally come to the conclusion that my running will primarily be reserved for if I’m being chased by an animal or if there’s an ice cream truck in the near vicinity.
Mike Kohler, however, has a very different perspective on running. Kohler, of West Fargo, North Dakota, signed up to run his first-ever half marathon two weeks ago. He worked his way up to longer distances, first running a 5K, then a 10K the following year, and had trained the last several months for the 13.1 miles of a half marathon.
So on the day of the race, Kohler went through his race-day routine, showed up at the Fargodome at the appointed time, and took off with the rest of the crowd of runners surrounding him. The only problem was: he misread the signs and was, unbeknownst to him, running alongside those competing in the full marathon.
And so he just kept on running. And running. And running. Around mile 12, he recognized his mistake. But at that point, decided he might as well keep running. Said Kohler, after he finished the entire marathon in a little under six hours, “I thought, ‘I’m just going to go for it. I’m already here. I’m already running. I’m already tired. I might as well try to finish it.’”
Mike Kohler may not have planned this particular accomplishment but he’s a perfect example of what can happen when you worry a little less about the finish line or the end result and pay more attention to what’s around you here and now.
I wonder what our lives of faith might look like if we focused a little less on what we need to accomplish and a little more on simply how we can live right now. I have a feeling that’s what the apostle Paul had in mind when he talked about “giving thanks in all circumstances or praying without ceasing or finding joy at all times.”
Compassion. Joy. Love. Connection to God and to others. These aren’t just things to wait for or to someday experience. Could it be possible that we’d be so caught up in gratitude and thoughtfulness and kindness that it would almost seem effortless and without end? Like our lives could be one continuous act of faithfulness. Then, who knows? You might find that you so love what you’re doing that you’ll just keep going.