The London Marathon 2021 was postponed from April to October, in an unusual step which showed yet another impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The rescheduled race would have allowed various athletes to train harder, faster and longer than perhaps they might normally. It is unlikely that we will ever know exactly what impact the delay had on each and every athlete’s finish times, but we do know that several headline records were set. This included the times for male and female wheelchair participants, as well as several more unusual categories!
But no doubt there were elements of impatient waiting, of watching the clock, and of nervous anticipation for longer than usual. For some, it would have felt like a long delay.
Postponing the race by several months had its pros and cons. But we may feel that we can’t relate directly. After all, most people do not run marathons.
What’s our race?
Well, maybe we don’t all run long races in the conventional sense. But a marathon is a good metaphor for a lengthy challenge in life. Maybe the word is donated to the title of another charity event, or we have a parallel in a major period of change in the workplace. Perhaps we feel that it applies to a long journey which we are making.
If we apply the concept of a long-distance race to our lives of faith, we do so with the Bible’s backing. There are at least six occasions in the New Testament where this is used as an illustration. For example, 1 Corinthians 9:24 encourages us to win the race. Hebrews 12:1 helps us stay on course.
The Bible is therefore acting as a guide, and also as the encouragement which a runner might get from their family in the crowds lining the route. But what happens if the race is delayed?
The passage in Hebrews 12 may look like it starts the chapter, but it actually concludes a list of faithful believers in Chapter 11. All of these have run the race of life in the past. They have all been winners, overcoming their own challenges. And yet our races have been held back until this moment. So they are waiting to be awarded the prize, alongside those who believe today.
Something better is coming
The timespan of this age is not infinite. The current state of humankind is far from perfect, and God will not put up with it forever. At the moment, we are drawing a contrast between this life and what we expect to be better. In fact, the reality of God’s Kingdom – the prize – will be so far beyond what we can imagine.
Just as we cannot visualise infinity, or the full scale of the energy in the universe, so we cannot yet understand an idea of endless peace and goodness for eternity. We can, however, have faith in this promise.
If we overcome this world’s problems, it will be an achievement like no other. In fact, in Romans 8:37, we are told we will be more than conquerors. Conquering is a human analysis, using human language. It is superlative and above everything else in this life, but we are promised something so much better in future.
Read Hebrews 12 and 13 to see the contrast between God’s ways and what we experience now, and how to live your life in anticipation of the future Kingdom.
You can read more ideas about races and competitions in our post here.
We will be exploring the Kingdom of God in our live talk series in November and December 2021. Join us!