Boston has its own holidays.  And they all have to do with hating the British.  As a Southerner, I will restrain myself from making any comments about what this might tell us about the Beantown Bunch.  Anyway, this past Monday was the Bostonian holiday of Patriots’ Day.  And before you think that they’ve taken this football obsession to a new level, the whole thing is about remembering the battles of Lexington and Concord (even though Maine celebrates this one too).  And it is also always the day of the Boston Marathon.  Because colonial wars and long road races have a lot to do with each other.  This is the day when crazy people from around the world descend upon Boston in their short shorts and sporty wrist watches to run a race that is absurdly long (in my humble opinion).  And LOTS of other crazy people come to watch the aforementioned crazy people run the absurdly long race.  They think this is a holiday.  I think it’s weird.

Although I didn’t get Patriots’ Day off, I got to work from home because my boss didn’t want me to have to fight the crowds getting to the office.  On my “lunch break,” I headed to the gym to work out.  Now, if you have known me for most of my life, you know this is weird.  I danced for 19 years.  Dancers rarely work out in the way that the rest of the world does.  If you’re dancing 3 or 4 hours a day, then there is really no need for this working out business.  And I loathe running.  In fact, I refuse to do it.  Once I left the grand world of basic physical education in seventh grade, I have never looked back.  And you can’t make me.  I share all of this because I do not really enjoy the whole gym/workout thing.  I’m sorry, but I find it kind of boring most of the time.  And I only do it because I know that I can’t keep up my cookie-dough-eating habit otherwise. 

So, there I was out of total self-obligation, walking on the treadmill to the beat of Switchfoot, when I realized that the TV in front of me was broadcasting live from the Marathon.  I thought this was a bit much.  I will readily acknowledge that the Boston local news is really Boston sports news, but I felt like this was taking the whole thing a little too far.  However, having nowhere else to rest my eyes and desperately wanting to remain distracted from how much time I had left on the treadmill, I kept watching – closed captioning and all. 

The station had cameras at various locations in the city.  There were a few reporters (decked out in their official station fleece jackets and snazzy running pants but with perfectly fixed hair) along the route.  In their own words, they were looking for the people who were falling behind so they could briefly interview them.  Apparently, those that are struggling to keep pace will really appreciate having to find their breath to talk in front of a camera. 

Because of the time of day, they ended up keeping the camera on the finish line most of the time.  Continually, people kept crossing the finish line, and I’ll admit that there were several moments when my eyes started to tear up.  I know I can be emotional, but really no one should cry while working out at the gym.  It’s like the rule about wiping down the machines after you use them.  Frankly, I was a little shocked at my reaction.

But I watched them, one after another, crossing that line.  One woman was literally walked across with two men on either side of her bracing her arms because her legs were cramping too badly for her to walk on her own.  Immediately afterward, she sat down in a wheelchair.  But she made it.  One man and his son have been running the marathon for over 25 years.  The man is 65 years old and his son has cerebral palsy.  The father runs the entire way, pushing his son in a wheelchair made for racing.  They are a team.  They finished together.  There were people who ran across with their arms up, pumping them excitedly knowing that they’d just accomplished what few can.  They replayed the clip of the winner, a Kenyan, who fell to his knees when he crossed the finish line and kissed the ground. 

And I kept thinking about how Paul refers to this thing we call life as a race. 

Sometimes it gets ugly.  Sometimes we get out of breath or fall behind, and we feel like our struggles are on display for the world to see.  Sometimes we need someone else to hold us up.  Sometimes those watching don’t realize how much we’ve had to overcome just to be in it at all.  Sometimes Heartbreak Hill seems like it will be the death of us. 

But we will get to the finish line.  Even if Jesus has to carry us across.  And there will be a great cloud of witnesses cheering because we made it (Hebrews 12:1).  We will raise our arms in the air, and then we will fall to our knees and kiss that heavenly sod.  Because we will see Him.  And we will be with Him.  After all, He was what we were after all along. 

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.  (I Corinthians 9:24)

“I am your very great reward.”  (Genesis 15:1)