On Monday Micah Herndon crawled across the finish line at the Boston Marathon. No, he didn’t win the race. But he won the hearts of everyone who saw the video that went viral.
Herndon, a 31-year-old Marine veteran from Tallmadge, Ohio, was running the 26.2-mile race to pay tribute to three Marines who he served alongside. Matthew Ballard and Mark Juarez and British journalist Rupert Hamer died in 2010 from an improvised explosive device’s blast in Afghanistan. The Record-Courier in Ohio has more details of his inspiring story:
“I run in honor of them,” Herndon said. “They are not here anymore. I am here, and I am able. I am lucky to still have all my limbs. I can still be active. I find fuel in the simple idea that I can run. Some cannot.”
When his Achilles tendon starting giving him trouble on Monday and his legs “gave up” near the end of the race, Herndon told a reporter that he chanted his fallen comrades’ names aloud to help himself focus on finishing.
“I kept repeating those names,” Herndon said. “The thoughts of their memories and their families flowing through the mind just like they always do.”
When I saw the video and heard Herndon’s story I thought of Paul’s analogy of running the Christian race in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
Consider these three lessons.
1. If you want to win, you must register for the race.
No one shows up for the Boston Marathon and says, “I want to run.” You must qualify. There are entry requirements. Forms to sign. Fees to be paid.
The same thing is true in running the Christian race. Paul entered the race when he submitted his life to Christ through faith, repentance and baptism. He had been a violent persecutor of Christians. But came face to face with Jesus. Literally. Learned the truth. Turned from sin. And obeyed the command “to arise and be baptized and wash away (his) sins” (Acts 22:16).
If you want to run for the Lord and cross the finish line in heaven, you must register.
(2) If you want to win, you must resist discouragement.
When Herndon started hurting he could have quit. His legs quit. But his heart didn’t.
All runners know they must endure aches. Pains. Strains. A dedicated runner persists in hot weather. Cold weather. Rainy weather. When he feels good. Or bad. Or just blah! He runs! He runs with purpose. Passion. And perseverance.
The Christian race requires that same self-control and self-discipline that defies discouragement. The devil is devious and will devise all kinds of excuses why you should quit. Temptations, trials, troubles, will emerge at the worse possible time. Some people will disappoint us. We will have to endure and overcome despondency, distress and downheartedness. Like Herndon, dedication and dogged determination is required for us to cross the finish line.
(3) If you want to win, you must remember why you’re running.
Herndon was running to honor his fallen friends. He was focused on his purpose. His passion drove him. His pursuit supplied the strength he needed to push forward.
Christians run recognizing the reward. And have an eternal instead of a temporal perspective. When you’re hurting rely on Jesus. Repeat His name. Renew your focus. Remember your loved ones who’ve already finished the race and are waiting for you at the finish line. And pray for strength and courage to keep on going.
Remember heaven is worth every sorrow, setback, and suffering. Its reward is imperishable.
Keep on going. Don’t quit. Don’t give in. Don’t give out. Don’t give up.
If necessary, crawl across the finish line. The reward is worth it.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman