I’ve been thinking about marathons today. I think about running quite often because sadly it is the only “hobby” that I pursue, however, my marathon thoughts today don’t resolve around a physical race. In the past month I’ve been blessed to encounter a “spiritual marathoner” that has left me fueled with hope.
I recently read a book that challeneged me to keep running the course ahead in my personal life and pursue the mastery of forgiveness. It’s called, “Free Yourself to Love: The Liberating Power of Forgiveness” by Jackie Kendall. This book gives an authentic view of what forgiveness is/isn’t, why we should seek to forgive regardless of the extent of the offense, and most importantly– how a Christian can develop techniques, perserverance, and strenght to successfully forgive.
With all that being said, there’s a specific reason I refer to Jackie as a “marathoner for Christ.” Jackie’s mastery of the skills of forgiveness involves painful and traumatic experiences including severe child abuse at the hands of her father. The pages of her book make it obvious that she has done the necessary grueling training to run the brutal marathon of forgiving such horrendous acts— and the end of the book makes it apparent that she has “finished” gracefully.
One marathon technique I found particurly inspiring is the concept that as Christians we can use repeat offenses and/or memories/flashbacks of an offense as an opportunity to “practice becomming an excellent forgiver.” Isn’t that how us “crazy runnin folks” view our workouts? The cars that fly by as I slowly trek up a hill shake their heads in confusion wondering who would choose to run up such massive hills….but as I run these hills I am simulatenously aware that not only am I building stamina and perserverance, but I am also building the necesarry quad and calf muscle tone to finish the race!
It’s a beautiful reality that hard workouts make our physical abilities more refined and our confidence boosted for future races. It’s the same spiritually! As we practice forgiving by faith– we are blessed to perfect the technique of letting go of offenses and surrendering them into God’s hands.
Probably the most recognizable part of Jackie’s story that qualifies her for marathon status is the cheerful exhuberant smile she exhibits from the finish line! If you’ve ever watched a marathon on tv, or better yet in person— you watch these passionate runners cross the finish line with contagious smiles on their faces. For those that have never dared to attempt the course, 26.2 sounds reasonably insane! I mean, the reality is that 26.2 miles will get you across many average cities in the U.S! But for those who have successfully finished, the liberating power of accomplishing such a feat is mind boggling!
Her book delivers the concept of Christlike forgiveness with such energy and hope that it provokes the curiosity of the the typical 5k &10k spiritual runners (like myself) who have dabbled with the idea of forgivness but never sought to embrace it. My heart screams, “This is one marathon I need to run in my life!” Because– I believe once I cross that finish line— the feeling will be indescribily amazing. So much so, that I will hopefully be encouraging and shouting to others to “come tackle this amazing race!” In fact, that is what I’m attempting to say right now. Except, I’m not finished– I’m mid course… So, I’m saying, “Come join me! I need a running buddy.” Grab the book, lace up your shoes– and let’s go!