When my husband participated in a Mudathon which included 3 miles of 40 obstacles and a mud trench, I didn’t join him. Cheering him on from the sidelines was my only option because, not to wallow in it, I simply wasn’t ready to run the course.
This past August my niece ran a similar Spartan race that also included a mud challenge. She was faced with putting her entire head under the dreadful mire for a short distance OR taking the penalty lap for avoiding said challenge. I’ve thought about this extensively…What would I have done? What would you do? When asked if wearing goggles was an option, she explained how athletes usually avoided anything that would hinder running or achieving success with other obstacles.
I read Hebrews 12:1 while still pondering this mud/goggle dilemma: “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Sometimes we have to ditch the goggles and sin, boldly put our heads down like my niece did, and keep going. Running the race is easier when we’re not weighed down with habits or thoughts that entangle us.
In high school I was on the track team. My race strategy was to stay with the pack and conserve energy until the final sprint at which point I’d dig deep and pass a few runners to the finish line. It never worked very well and while sometimes I’d receive a placement ribbon, I never did win a race.
To condition for those track events I’d run around the perimeter of the hayfield on our farm listening to Prince’s Purple Rain album on a Walkman knock-off. I’ve long since traded in my running shoes and the singer formerly known as Prince for a best friend who helps me solve the world’s problems as we walk, which I prefer.
People all over the world are obsessed with races. We race cars, horses, goats, dogs, camels, ostriches, water buffalo, and even lawnmowers. At our annual family reunion we take seriously the big finale of racing craw crabs down a church pew.
But one of the craziest races ever concocted has to be The Wife Carrying Race in which the man carries his wife upside down on his back with her legs wrapped around his neck. It’s awkward to say the least. As my dad would say, “It’s not how I would have done it.” But hey, Finland has won the title of the happiest place on earth twice so maybe there’s something to it.
When someone signs up for a race, they begin training. Had I worked out more, I might have joined my husband in the Mudathon. (He doesn’t know about the Wife Carrying Race and nobody tell him!) The big question is: How are we training? Realistically, if you’re reading this you’re already a participant in a race…the human race. It’s not a sprint but one of endurance, from birth to the end of our days on earth. There are no sideline options so we must condition in order to do it well…the “gym” is our bible and our prayer room.
I don’t know who needs to hear it but—persevere! When running our race, sometimes we stumble and some obstacles will be messy. Hebrews 12:2-3 encourages us to “Fix our eyes on Jesus” who endured the cross “so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” And James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” Crossing the finish line and receiving a crown of eternal life?! Isn’t that way better than being rewarded with a medal, a placement ribbon or a t-shirt? All I know is I need to go hit the “gym”…
Janet Cowger- Fliegel