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The Wall

 I was mulling over running a marathon, and then I remembered they invented cars. Even if I didn’t have a car, I don’t think I’d be in such a hurry to get somewhere that I’d run twenty-six miles. If I were really in a pinch, maybe I’d bike, but running all that way just to say I did it seems like very little by way of return on investment, even if I managed to survive the whole thing.

But what if something’s chasing you? I’ll stand my ground and fight it off. If I can’t fight it off, chances are I didn’t stand a chance of outrunning it, and why die sweaty and tired?

That said, I’ve known a few people who had enough free time on their hands that they not only prepared for running a marathon but actually followed through and did it. Even though I could have made better time on a bike or in a car, not wanting to take anything away from their achievement, I congratulated them heartily, made some crack about their feet being glad it was over, and asked if the much-ballyhooed wall was a real thing. Even though my survey pool is relatively small, and the conclusions are anecdotal, it seems that the wall is real, and everyone running a marathon experiences it at some point.

If you’re not an avid runner or don’t participate in marathons for fun, the wall is the moment sometime before the end of the race when you are thoroughly exhausted; every reserve you had is gone, and it becomes more of a mental game than anything else. It is said most people experience it sometime during the twenty-mile mark, and that is the moment where you either push through and commit to endure to the end, to finish the race that you might receive your prize, or you give up, walk away, and try to remember how many people you’ve told about your plans, and how you’ll spin your failure into something more noble than that you just gave up.

Those curious about the science of the wall in any endurance sport, whether running, cycling or swimming, have concluded that the depletion of glycogen stores in your liver and muscles brings about that feeling of exhaustion and impending collapse.

Spiritually speaking, when your faith and focus become depleted, you begin to feel that weariness deep in your soul where every day seems like an eternity, and every hurdle you would have readily leaped over seems like an insurmountable obstacle.

It’s hard enough finishing a marathon when you have an accurate count of how many miles you’ve run and how many miles are left. It becomes a psychological millstone around your neck when, every five hundred yards, someone holds up a sign informing you there are only five hundred yards left even though you have miles to go. 

You start to do the math in your head, and you realize that what was supposed to be five hundred more yards has been a solid three miles, and the end is nowhere in sight. That’s when the doubt starts creeping in. That’s when you start asking yourself if it’s ever going to be over, how many more people holding up signs will see along your route, and whether or not you have it in you to finish.

You start noticing those who have quit, and you begin to envy those who’ve either slowed to a crawl or fallen by the wayside altogether. At some point, you start to consider that at least you won’t be alone in having abandoned the race; at least you’ll have company as you throw in the towel and give up.

It is then that the idea of crossing the finish line, receiving your prize, standing in the winner’s circle, and claiming what is yours is no longer paramount. It is no longer the singular goal you pursue with all that you are but something that would have been nice had it not been so tiresome.

You’ll know the finish line when you see it. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s there when it isn’t, and don’t place your hope in the people holding up the signs insisting that we only have five hundred yards to go.

Do I wish they were right for once? Most assuredly, I do, but I’m not going to anchor my hope in their signs only to grow disillusioned time and again. I’m running my race to finish. I don’t know about placing or getting a medal, but I’m going to finish it. I’m going to cross the finish line and stand among those who did likewise, who kept running even when others were giving up, and who kept pushing when every cramped muscle was screaming they should quit.

There is one piece of advice given to athletes to avoid hitting the wall I believe is fitting for believers as well, and that is to eat and drink more than you think you need. If you believe an hour of prayer per day is all you need, make it two. If you believe reading one chapter of your Bible per day is all you need, make it five. Build up your reserves. Fill yourself with the Word. Fill your life with prayer so that when others get winded, sore, tired, and forlorn, you will have the wherewithal to persevere.

From everything I’ve read in the Bible, God doesn’t give out participation trophies or also-ran ribbons. You actually have to finish the race to get your prize.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Posted on 13 September 2023 | 11:26 am

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Mike's 25 Latest Blog Posts

1. Sep 21, 2023 - Silence
2. Sep 19, 2023 - Help!
3. Sep 18, 2023 - Training
4. Sep 17, 2023 - Control
5. Sep 16, 2023 - Where To?
6. Sep 15, 2023 - Ripples
7. Sep 13, 2023 - The Wall
8. Sep 12, 2023 - The Unknown
9. Sep 11, 2023 - Firsts
10. Sep 9, 2023 - How It Ends
11. Sep 8, 2023 - Soldier On
12. Sep 7, 2023 - Who You Serve
13. Sep 6, 2023 - Aversion
14. Sep 5, 2023 - The Spectrum
15. Sep 4, 2023 - Snares
16. Sep 2, 2023 - Compassion
17. Sep 1, 2023 - Uncanny
18. Aug 31, 2023 - But You IV
19. Aug 30, 2023 - But You III
20. Aug 28, 2023 - But You II
21. Aug 27, 2023 - But You!
22. Aug 26, 2023 - In
23. Aug 25, 2023 - Timing
24. Aug 24, 2023 - Symptoms
25. Aug 22, 2023 - My Way!

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