It’s the 3rd of November. On a dry cow pasture outside Sacramento, somewhere between scaling walls and flipping tires, I will turn 40. The final trickling sand-grains of year 39 find me poised on the start line of a Spartan obstacle course race.
There’s no knowing quite how I got here, or where “here” really is. Where I am is out of sight from where I thought I’d be. All the zigs I could have zagged are too countless to enumerate. The miles and years between then and now are laden with could’ve-beens and should’ve-dones.
But this is no time for looking over my shoulder. Beside me with hearts quickening are a handful of dear friends and a host of utter strangers. My mind returns, as it has these past months, to Hebrews 12:1.
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us…”
It tells me to run with patience. To savor the journey. To accept challenges and overcome them. To acknowledge failure and still press on. This race is not to the swift, but to the steadfast.
The air tingles. The course is set before me. Ahead is a guess; a gangling, rangy way-step. There will be hills to climb and obstacles to face: some enjoyable, some daunting. Momentary fellowships will form in the common struggle as nameless runners send cheers of encouragement or lend hands and backs one to another. It’s not about finishing first, it’s about racing well. I think of verse 2.
“…looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Whatever else may lie ahead, in the end there will be victory.
There is a long and growing list of things I’ll never be, experiences I’ll never have, sights I’ll never see, dreams I’ll never realize. That’s fine. What I’ve missed can’t be compared to what I stand to gain, and where I’ve been is never so glorious as where I’m bound.