Written by: Marcio Sierra Jr.
In 2011, I ran my first marathon, the Chicago Marathon. It was an exhilarating race with thousands, over 40,000, of participants that created a human sea that continued for the entire 26.2 miles. I am the type of person that loves to be around big crowds, so for me, being there was as exciting and fun as can be; I was in my element. When the race started, the crowd of runners around me was so huge that we all had to walk for about 10 minutes before there was any room, if you can call it that, to actually look like you were running. Literally, it looked like when people are leaving a packed stadium after the end of a game. After a few miles of trying my best to run in what seemed more like a stampede of wild animals bumping, stepping, and elbowing each other, I saw something that scared me, someone slipped and fell which caused about 10 or so people to fall on top of each other. It was like a domino effect except that the dominoes were running. Thankfully, I was able to maneuver through that mess with moves that could only be explained as divine providence for that moment. About 20 or so minutes later, I was getting close to an aid station, the place where awesome volunteers have water and Gatorade for all the thirsty runners to enjoy. The closer I got, the more I started to notice that a lot of runners were sliding, falling, and walking as if they were trying to walk on ice. When I finally arrived to ground zero, the aid station, I saw the road completely covered by about two inches of cups and water that had been thrown away by thousands of runners who had already passed by that aid station. I took about two steps before one of my legs decided to keep on going straight forward as if to make a split that caused the poor lady running next to me to have to jump unexpectedly and fall flat on her behind. As I was helping her get up, another runner who slid into me said, “this is like an obstacle course,” he was right. At that moment, I was more concerned about surviving the race without breaking a bone than actually finishing the race.
It was at that point that I decided to pray and ask God to protect me and keep me safe from any harm or injury. While praying, I felt the Lord impressing on my heart the words “be attentive and wise, there are obstacles in the way.” For the rest of the race, I was very attentive, careful, and made wise decisions in order to avoid the obstacles that were trying to keep me from finishing the race.
I know that this was just a race, but you need to keep in mind that life is a race and it has plenty of obstacles that will try to prevent you from finishing the race. Obstacles that will want to end your marriage, bumps that will leave you without a job, situations that will make you want to give up, problems that will cause you to be depressed, etc. Unfortunately, there is no way to live an obstacle free life, but with God’s help, you can run through those obstacles without letting them stop you. During my race, I had to use common sense; walking or running very slowly when going through an aid station to avoid slipping, paying close attention to what was happening ahead of me in order to avoid any surprises, move to the shady areas to avoid the scorching sun, etc. In the same way, in life we need to use common sense but also, and more importantly, we need to fix our eyes on Jesus and on His Word in order to avoid being surprised by the obstacles that the devil will try to put in front of you. With God’s help you can learn how to deal with those obstacles.
Many of the falls, slips, and injuries caused by the obstacles of “life” could be avoided and/or better managed if we followed God’s way and lived a life of obedience and submission to His Word. Often times we try to run the race on our own and end up giving up because the obstacles are too many and/or too difficult to face. Jesus told us that in this life we would have obstacles (tribulations) but He also reminded us that He had defeated any obstacle that wants to bring us down, John 16:33. The problem that we face in the race of life is that many of the obstacles that we encounter in life don’t seem like obstacles. We are blinded and/or distracted and that causes us to not be attentive to what God is saying, doing, or showing us. We make decision without consulting Him or His Word and more often than not, use the wisdom from this world instead of seeking the wisdom that comes from heaven.
As you continue to run the race of life, keep in mind that there will be obstacles in the way that will want to stop you. But don’t get discouraged, all you need to do is:
Fix your eyes on Jesus – Hebrews 12:2
Ask God to give you wisdom from heaven – James 1:5
Be attentive to what the enemy is doing – 1 Peter 5:8
Trust God to make your path straight – Proverbs 3:5-6
Thanks to God, I was able to finish the Chicago Marathon and I have a cool medal to prove it. My desire now is to be able to finish the race that is before me. I know that by following the advice that these verses give me I will be able to keep on going regardless of the obstacles that come my way. I pray that as you fix your eyes on Jesus, ask for His wisdom, become attentive and trust in Him, you will also be able to run and finish strong. May God continue to bless you!