(On January 15, 2012, I completed my first marathon. This series breaks down 8 important lessons I learned on my journey to the finish line.)
If you've ever been on a sports team or in a band, you’ve no doubt had to practice countless hours in order to get as good as possible for your upcoming game or concert. Without this practice, your team would be more likely to lose, or your concert would sound more like a bunch of 2 year olds banging on pots and pans in the kitchen instead of a beautiful symphony (unless they are really talented 2 year olds).
26.2 Wasn’t the Hardest Part
One of the hardest things about running a marathon is not so much the 26.2 miles you run that day (Although the sweat stains on my shirt might say otherwise). Perhaps the hardest part is the weeks and weeks of training you must put in to get to that point. You see if you want to reach your goal, you need to have a plan.
I didn't decide to run a marathon on January 14th and then proceed to go ahead and give it a shot the next day. Had I gone with that plan, they would've scooped me up on mile 3 and brought me home in an ambulance. And that wouldn't have worked so well. Instead, I set a goal and figured out a plan to get me there.
I Kept Training
Altogether I trained for 18 weeks, slowly increasing my mileage each week to get my body ready. Four days a week, I woke up early in the morning, even when I didn't feel like it, to ensure that I had enough time to run, eat, shower, and get to work.
No matter what, I stuck to this plan. When it got colder outside, I kept training. When this cold air, combined with the dryness of the desert caused me to gag on some of my morning runs, I kept training. When I was chased by a dog and was almost hit by several cars, I kept training. When I had to travel on 7 different weekends during those 18 weeks, I adjusted to make sure I didn't miss a run.
Why? Because I had a goal and nothing was going to stop me from achieving it.
We all have goals in life, things we want to achieve with the gifts we've been given. But having a goal is simply not enough. We need to have a plan to get there. Proverbs 13:16 says, 'The shrewd man does everything with prudence, but the fool peddles folly.'
So would you rather be wise or foolish?
The Marathon to Heaven
In a sense, every one of us is running a marathon called life. And, as Catholics, we all have one ultimate goal, one finish line that we hope to arrive at: heaven.
But do we have a plan to get there? God did, and it involved the life, death, and resurrection of His son. A pretty extensive plan, if you ask me, and while God has a plan for us, that doesn't mean we are off the hook.
He's calling you to greatness. He's calling you to holiness, and He desires to have a relationship with you. Maybe that's a good place to start.
Take a look at your typical week. What specific thing(s) can you do each week to grow closer to Him? Write them down. Schedule them, and keep training. When you one day reach that finish line, you'll be thankful you did.
Read more of the lessons Eric learned from his marathon: