It amazes me to be able to experience revelation in very practical and unexpected ways. But really, do I have to run a marathon?
I’m sort of a runner. At least I still say I am. I ran in high school and was able to attend on scholarship to run long distance in college for two years. But I never wanted to run a marathon. Never.
Oh, I enjoyed running in general, and I liked racing and even pushing past that threshold of pain toward the finish. But this race??
I saw what it did to people. I saw the pain, the sickness, the injury, the overall agony. It didn’t look fun OR worth it. Then a few years after college, my husband ran a marathon. And…I still subscribed to my view of it: pure torture.
Fast forward about ten years. We’re living overseas, homeschooling for the first time, still trying to get the hang of doing the China thing. And my husband brings up the idea of the Great Wall Marathon in Beijing. Yeah…sounds fun, in theory. As in, that would be cool to have done that marathon. I briefly entertained the idea, thought better of it with regard to our children and the time away it would take, told my husband I would support him, but it wasn’t the right time for me. Whew!
Suddenly, he was signing up. It was a Sunday, pretty much the last day to register, and he asked me one more time. AGH! I didn’t want to think about it again. So much preparation and training and time away, plus the cost, the travel (who would watch our kids?!), and, oh yeah, the agony of actually running the marathon in the mountains! But it weighed on me. I kept thinking about it. The night prior I’d discussed with our mentoring group about revelation, so I resolved to ask God, even in what I considered this very secular thing. Armed with the thought that all things are both temporal and spiritual, combined with advice to pray especially for confirmation on things that might have a detrimental impact on family, I knew I had to ask. And I needed an answer ASAP.
We had many people at the apartment that day, but I snuck away to my bedroom and knelt. I prayed a “no,” telling God all those reasons why I felt I shouldn’t do the marathon, especially that I felt it would take away from homeschooling time and mothering time and keeping-my-home-from-becoming-chaotic time! I laid it all out, and then I waited. I had snatched my scriptures on my way in, and I opened them randomly, thinking,
This is so cliché to expect them to drop open to my answer; no way it’s going to work.
Oh, me of little faith!
I glanced at Micah. Who reads Micah? I skimmed a few verses and then stopped on the last verse in chapter 4: “Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion.”
Ok, yeah, but what does that really mean? Just the fact that it says “daughter?” And for me to get up and thresh? Maybe. I don’t know.
A little more skimming until the beginning of chapter 6: “Hear ye now what the Lord saith; Arise, contend thou before the mountains, and let the hills hear thy voice.”
I was overcome with a rising force of the Spirit within me. If I couldn’t get the message on that first command, He made it undeniably clear on the second. Run that marathon. You don’t have to know why yet. Just do it.
So I did. I ran. I trained with my sister. We ran for hours. And hours. And hours. Then race day came and I “contended before the mountains.” And boy, did the “hills hear my voice” as my sister and I sang our way along the marathon route! We had several people run with us for sections of the race, letting us know how they appreciated running with the “music girls.” We did it, we survived, we completed the race, we did what we set out to do and enjoyed [most of] the journey.
And the why?? Partway through training, I asked God the why: what was my purpose in this great effort? He simply responded “for joy.” So we tried to bring joy to others as we trained and raced, and we tried to feel joy in the process ourselves. Smiling, laughing, waving to strangers, having dance parties on stair landings, listening to Conference talks and joyful music, posing for pictures, and talking for hours. And aside from that, so many blessings have come: a deeper relationship with my youngest sister, a more disciplined schedule, reduced leisure media and more meaningful use of time with my children and husband, not to mention the energy and enthusiasm that comes from being fit and having done something mega hard!
A marathon is not for everyone. But heeding the will of the Lord, individualized for your life, is. He knows you and me personally and can guide us to the things we should do to bring us the greatest blessings. It will be personal. It will be difficult. And you may not know why. But He does, and faith in His love can be enough to keep us on that path toward heavenly peace and joy.