Yesterday I completed a grueling 111k from Chandigarh to Shimla. It included around 2000 meter climb. Twenty-one hours on the road. It was the Mashobra Tuffman promotional run. There were fun and camaraderie, long discussions and two long rests. But the further down the road – as these things usually go – the tougher it became. The runners become fewer, the darkness more pervasive, the fun factor wears thin. That is when determination and distraction from the pain and fatigue come into play. Yes, the body must be tough to endure this kind of punishment and the mind must be tough to keep on going.

Today, I reacted negatively to various situations that came my way. The easy excuse is that I am still tired. But is that the reason? There is another type of toughness. In fact, this is the type of toughness that really matters. The type of strength that patiently listens to my seven-year-old son when he nags about a movie again. The strength to serve my family without resentment. The strength that does not mind chores or teaching, giving encouragement or accepting rebuke. The strength to be second; no, to be last. The strength that is willing to sacrifice.

Practicing patience is harder than training for a marathon. Exercising unconditional love is harder than any cardio you can do. Nagging can chafe more than too-big running shoes. Rejection and breaking of trust pain more than legs after a hundred kilometers. Forgiveness is tough. Kindness, goodness, self-control, are TOUGH.

In fact, it is so tough that I do not think anyone can do it. All of us fall short. None of us will make it to the finish line. But there is help:

Hebrews 12:1-3
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

There is no shame in calling for help in the race of life. Those who go it alone will end up alone. The true Tuffman, is the one who trains to be good. Our Coach is the Original Strongman. He is the One who defeated the Devil with his supreme sacrifice. He broke the power of sin and death. And He showed us the meaning of love.

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Keep running

Stephan

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