I don’t know much about marathons, or even sport for that matter. Shocking I know.
So up until fairly recently, I thought that marathon prep was just going to the gym for a month or so before the race. Right? Wrong. I’ve recently signed up to run the Tonbridge Half Marathon, and with the help of an iPhone app, a new pair of trainers and an awesome playlist I’m now a month into my training.
Last week I checked out a couple of websites where runners compare tips, talk about the latest equipment and encourage each other. My eyes have been opened. They talk about all of this stuff that I never even thought of! Special diets balancing carbohydrates and protein, fitness tests, running, the whole shebang. Call me naive but I never realised that running was such hard work!
I think the thing I’m most nervous about is hitting what is known as The Wall. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this clip from the movie ‘Run Fat Boy Run.’
What I find really great about this clip is the fact that Dennis (aka Simon Pegg) only broke through the wall because of his supporters and the encouragement they gave him.
If you see marathon footage on the television, you will see that the streets are lined with supporters, some holding up encouraging messages and giving out water. It is this support that helps runners cross the finish line (photo) and pretty much every runner I have ever seen interviewed says that they couldn’t have done it without the support of their family and friends.
So as I was thinking about the marathon and the different stages that are in it; the training, the running, the wall, the encouragement and the finish, I realised how much reading the Bible is like running a marathon.
Firstly there’s the training. As I am discovering, you wouldn’t run a race without preparing for it first.
So, 1. Do your research! If you don’t know the course, you can’t prepare for it. Somebody once told me that the Bible is God’s road map, guiding us on our journey. The exciting thing about our lives is that the destination is not unknown. At least not by God. I find it so reassuring that I don’t have to stress about where my life will take me, because God has already mapped it all out for me.
All I have to do is enjoy the journey! This isn’t always easy, but the Bible is full of promises that God gives us.
For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord. Plans to prosper, not to harm you. (Jeremiah 29 v 11.)
The Bible is full of verses such as these that help us plan our route.
Secondly, the Bible is FULL of people who have already run the race.
Genesis through to Esther is story after story of men and women who have served God faithfully and royally mucked up as well. If I’m going somewhere new, I always ask my friends who have been there first. Where did they stay, where did they eat and so on. We can use the Bible in a similar way to learn what went right and what went wrong in the lives of these famous Christians.
Thirdly, think about your motivation. Runners in a marathon enter for all kinds of reasons; to raise money for a charity, to challenge themselves, to beat their previous time….. Why do you as a Christian read the Bible?
Because your youth leader tells you to?
Because you feel guilty if you don’t?
Or because the Bible is a book full of guidance, wisdom, stories and encouragement?
The Bible is a love letter from God to us. Think about why you do or don’t read the Bible and maybe chat to a friend or leader later about your motivation.
Then make a plan! Much like marathon training, reading your Bible doesn’t just happen.
Think about when you are going to read it. If you’re not a morning person, before school probably isn’t going to work for you. Build it into your daily routine and set aside quality time with God.
Think about where. A crowded common room or shared bedroom may not be ideal. Think about how you connect with God – love nature? Try the garden!
Like quiet and relaxing? Stick your iPod in! Be intentional in the environment you create so that you can meet with God. These things rarely just happen if we don’t make a conscious effort.
And there are so many resources out there to help us – so we don’t have to plan it on our own! Bible notes are really easy to get hold of either online, from a Christian Book Shop or through your church.
There are plenty of apps available for tablets, iPhones and Android that helps structure your quiet time, and podcasts that can be downloaded to your mp3 player.
So why is reading the Bible like running a marathon?
Because it covers every stage – stories from the past that prepares you for the race.
Poems of despair and encouragement as you hit the wall.
Jubilation and praise as you cross the finish line.
And support as you prepare to share your story with the next marathon runner.
Which leaves us with a question.
What do you want your race to look like? And what are you prepared to do in order to get ready?