I've never run a marathon or half-marathon or even a 10K run. But I know people who have and do. I admire their commitment to training. The annual London marathon will take place in a few days on 17 April. The runners I admire aren't the super athletes who complete the route in amazingly short times. It's the people who take 9 hours or more, some with considerable disabilities, but who make the finish eventually, through dogged perseverance.
It's only when you are nearly at the end that you can see the goal in a marathon. In faith that it will be worth the effort, you just have to keep on going without being able to see the end for most of the run. It helps to have good mentors and role models, other people to run with and the inspiration of past marathon runners as well as spectators egging you on.
The life of faith isn't about goals you can see, but promises you trust enough to act on. This sort of faith is practised by people who are in it for the long hard haul, not the quick sprint. Chapter 11 of the letter to the Hebrews has a catalogue of examples from Israelite history of this sort of faith. The writer says:
"Therefore,since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12: 1-2)
This post is the 33rd in a series of daily Lenten reflections based on a Bible reading from the Common Worship Lectionary of the Church of England. This one is based on Hebrews 11: 32 - 12.2.