The Marathon of Life

With two marathons under my belt and countless half marathons, 5Ks and 10Ks, I’ve put in countless hours of running over the last seven years.  As a father of three young children with a full time job, a challenge I face every day is how to find the time to be a good husband, father, employee and servant of God while also finding time to hit the road.  While I’m not always successful in adequately juggling all of these roles, I’m going to share a few tips that have helped me along the way.

First, start your day with God’s word.  I’ve found that starting my day with studying scripture helps to put my day and attitude into the proper state.  I’m much more likely to handle the stresses of the day and show patience and Christ’s love to others by starting each day in the right frame of mind.  I like to think of it as my daily attitude adjustment, and  a daily devotional is a great tool to keep you on track.  For years my Dad has been hand delivering a copy of Our Daily Bread to me which is a daily devotional that I find truly inspirational.  The summary from today’s edition of Our Daily Bread seems especially appropriate to this discussion and it states: “If every circumstance finds us abiding in Christ, we will find Christ abiding with us in every circumstance.”  There’s no better way to set the tone for your day and to start abiding in Christ than by starting your day with the study of God’s word.

Second, incorporate God’s word into your training.   As much as I enjoy running, the same 6 mile loop around the neighborhood does tend to get a bit boring.  For this reason many runners have headphones on and their MP3 player churning out their favorite music.  I enjoy listening to Christian Music play lists that I download from music services like Rhapsody when I’m in the mood for music, but I’ve also found pod casts that are available from some very talented Christian pastors that enable me to continue to study God’s word while I run.  Dr. James MacDonald is the pastor of Harvest Bible Church in Chicago, IL and has a daily broadcast called Walk in the Word which can be download for free in MP3 format from their website.  Each message from Dr. MacDonald is about 30 minutes in length, so I’ll often listen to Walk in the Word in the first half of my run and then finish with some music.

Third, dedicate quality time daily to your family and be a great role model.  While multitasking may be a great strategy for getting in a run while also listening to God’s word, multitasking does not work with your family.  Even when there seems to be a million tasks that you have left undone, take the time every day to spend quality time with your family, and make sure that they know that they have your undivided attention.  In our home, even with all of the activities our children have, we make sure we sit down and eat dinner together, always starting with prayer.  Make sure that you spend time reading to them and play games with them and just enjoy spending time with each other.  Ask them questions about their thoughts on God and when they ask you questions, make sure to use these opportunities to express your faith in the Lord.   Establish a bedtime prayer routine.  Our family has a routine of saying prayers together at bedtime where we rotate which family member leads us in prayer each night.  Starting with the common bedtime prayer “Now, I lay me down to sleep…” we add who we would like to see God bless as well as what we are thankful for.  I can see in my children the strong faith that is growing as a result.

Lastly, love your spouse!  Remind yourself every day of the commitment that you made on your wedding day.  In good times and bad, if your marital relationship and faith are strong, your marriage will serve as a solid foundation for your family and your life.

Life itself is a marathon and we face challenges daily in finishing the race, but as Paul states in Philippians 2:16 “Hold firmly to the word of life; then on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain…” Start your day with scripture.  Incorporate God’s word into your running.  Focus on your family, and always keep Jesus at the center of it all.  Your race will not be in vain.