That is one name that I will remember for many days to come. In case you are not Kenyan or have not heard about her, she was the 2016 London Women’s marathon winner. The win was and still is so phenomenal because she won despite having suffered a bad fall that left her head bleeding and a near altercation with an onlooker who ran onto the track after she had fallen.
I heard this story on a Sunday afternoon, seated in bumper-to-bumper traffic, with the
chaos caused by public transport operators. In that moment when irritation was at its highest level, I could not help but immediately exclaim, “Wow!” everything on that road, in that moment, no longer mattered.
Here was a lady who was running, got caught up with two other runners and tumbled to the ground so badly that once she got up (She got up, did not lie on the ground, or realize many other runners had gone past her) she clutched at her head with a look of pain on her face, almost got derailed by an onlooker whose admiration went a bit too far, but she won! Wait. She finished. She got up despite the pain and continued running and finished the race. Not only did she finish the race but she won! She surpassed last year’s winner, whom most would assume would have won. She got up, ran and beat the odds! This is what inspirational stories are made of. This is what faith is made of!
Listening to that story, all that kept ringing in me is faith. This race that Paul talks about in the epistles. A race that is not against others but against everything else that wants to win: the world and its systems, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life, the enemy.
1st Corinthians 9:24-27
24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
Can you imagine if the way Jemima ran that London Marathon is the way we ran this race of faith? With such determination and an eye for the prize? Can you imagine if, when we fell, we sprung up, pain notwithstanding, and continued running? In the words of Mercy Me, I can only imagine. But it really challenged me. Jemima was running for a physical, visible, immediate crown. But we run for an incorruptible crown. One that can never be taken away from us. One that is the final prize for a race well run. What we hope for is more precious than gold or silver or any truckload of money. How much more then should I get up and keep running? Even Christ, for the joy that was set before Him, endured. Then we; for the joy set before us, for the incorruptible and perfect crown, for the crowning glory of being with our Lord, should run this race by grace, finish, win and like Paul say:
2 Timothy 4:7
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Truth be told, our race is not perfect. There are hurdles, and sometimes there are even falls: falls so hard that we are discouraged and want to stay on the ground nursing our wounds. But get up; rise up and keep at it.
For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
The great thing about this race really, is that you have already been set up to win. So come what may, rise up and keep running. He who started this good work in you will be faithful to bring it to completion on the day of our Lord.
I guess you can say I’m into sports, because I am always running/
Like the Cheetah with spots, I’m always yearning/
To pick up the pace, sprint to victory and win this race/
But it’s not always that I end up dancing like Usain/
Sometimes I trip, tumble, the troubles ask me,”Are you sayin’,/
That you are sane, still on the track with this rain/
That’s beating against your feet/
Your knees, they’re weak, they squeak/
Your record is less than squeaky clean/
So give up, stay down, walk off the field/
Accept defeat, every battle yield.”/
But through the shame, the disappointment of misrepresenting Your name/
You whisper, ‘strength’, You urge me on/
With power, through my spirit, You surge/
Awaken, Holy Spirit coming forth in active purge/
Bind up and apply the healing balm. /
So I rise up from whence I fell/
Dust off my clothes, the dirt expel/
Inhale, Exhale, rise up and pick the pace.//