Bill Rodgers, the Marathon, and Jesus this Christmas

Bill Rodgers, the Marathon, and Jesus this Christmas

I have been reading a book about the great American runner Bill RUnknownodgers who won the Boston marathon four times and the New York city marathon four times, not to mention whacks and whacks of other races. I’m reading it because I like running and as someone who is slow and has never ran a full marathon I stand in awe before fellas capable of sub 2:30 times in that event.

What caught my attention, though, is how dissatisfied he often sounds about his running. As he tells the stories of great achievement and of great failure he tends to lump in what others would call amazing achievements (third place at a major event, second in Olympic trials) as abject failures. I can see how if you are aiming for 2:10 and you don’t finish that is a real failure, a collapse, but how finishing in 2:25 and in the top 10 can make one feel so despondent is another story.

It’s a story about expectations and hopes. For all of us there are areas in our lives where nothing is ever really truly enough. We want more money, more food (a better metabolism), fancier wine, a better watch, a nicer car, a better haircut, a more loving spouse, better-behaved kids…whatever it is we all know what it is to desire.

Here’s the thing. I can’t help but wonder in what ways I am similarly blind. In what ways am I enjoying wonderful gifts from God that I ought to be on my knees praying with gratitude for and yet just take as my new minimum standard? Much of the North American life functions this way: what is amazing to us one day is grey old and boring the next.

As Christmas approaches and the parties start really taking place and the gifts exchanging hands, I pray that I will be able to thank God for all I have, focus on the haves rather than the have-nots. I pray that each of us would reach out for our dreams while simultaneously being satisfied that we can even try.

Paul says he can be content with much or with little. He says that because he has realized that in Christ there is no little, we have His full love and full salvation and so it doesn’t matter what our current circumstances are we still have much, even if sometimes that is hard for us to see. I pray that we could see the much for what it is so that if we are running a 2:25 marathon we do so with smiles on our faces, grateful to even be able to run.