Well I have now officially completed a marathon. There are so many things that I’d love to say about the experience…but I’ll try to chisel the list down to just a few.

1) Weather plays a huge factor…

The race was set to begin at 6:30 AM, but due to some ominous looking clouds plus the lightening…the race didn’t begin until 8:15 AM. This was huge for two reasons.

First, you basically gear everything to start at 6:30 AM. I woke up at 3:00 AM to eat breakfast. I drank water & gatorade that morning. Everything was set with the thought that we’d start at the original time…but that was not to be. Not to go into details too much, but I’ve never seen such long lines for porta potties in my life.

Not only did the weather affect the start of the race, but it made the second part of the race all the more fun/challenging. The sun came out around mile 10-11 & then the winds picked up soon after. By the time I was on miles 19-23, I felt like I was running stationary.

2) Human Beings play a huge factor…

I started having spasms in my quads during the 2nd half of the race. This didn’t help me run the last 10 miles all that well. But I saw several friends/family down the stretch & that made a huge difference. I would see someone & I found myself running with greater effort plus more joy at seeing a familiar face.

At the very end of the race, I could barely continue…but I saw a group of friends from SHBC. Here’s a pic taken by one of them in that moment…

photo (1)Please know that this picture shows me smiling. And the reason that I was smiling wasn’t because the end was near. It wasn’t because the pain of running was coming to a close. It was because I saw some people I actually knew. I am running like a 90 year old man at this point…but seeing those people made a huge impact.

I think there’s something to this. Encouragement goes such a long ways. I was so thankful for all the encouragement I received during the race…but I don’t want to remember that without doing it myself. I want to be a person that encourages others towards good things as well. Maybe the marathon can remind all of us of that simple truth: encouragement matters. In fact, it is in the Bible…Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” 

3) Knowing there’s a Finish Line plays a huge factor…

I didn’t reach my initial time goal for the marathon. That was abandoned around mile 16. But knowing that there really was a finish line out there in front of me helped so much. Not only was there a finish line, but for me…I knew there was a sticker I was going to put on the old Escape! So as I ran into the wind that seemed to never cease along Classen & that’s what I thought about…the sticker! It is just a symbol of what took place. I ran a long time. But I got to the finish line.

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Bottom line: Marathons are hard. But there is a great reward in doing them. Now to rest up before training begins for the next one!

Here’s what has been on my mind the last few days…

Actually, let me give you 2 bits of information that help make sense of what I’ve been thinking on.

#1: I began reading a book called Gospel Coach. In this book, it talks about the biblical & practical need of raising up new leaders…and how the church should be where this takes place. It has been very good…I recommend ministers give it a read if you’re looking for something to encourage you to invest in your leaders.

#2: I have been thinking about Baby Cobb a lot. Baby Cobb is due to be born in October & I’m thrilled to meet this new Cobb. I think about everything I want to teach my child. I try to go through every allegiance that I want my child to share with me (OU, New York Mets, Q’doba). I think about all the books that I want to read with Baby Cobb. I wonder what the first word or phrase will be for Baby Cobb (I’m hoping it is, “Faith Alone”). I start to think about Baby Cobb’s talents & passions…and I can’t help but hope that Baby Cobb has Heather’s musical ability. I really am praying that Baby Cobb will have deep affections for Christ. It has been a joyful time of thinking about the possibilities for this little human being that I’ve yet to meet.

So with that context, I arrived at this thought: Someone will teach Baby Cobb.

Although Heather & I will definitely be instructing our child…there will be other voices that they hear. There will be others that speak & Baby Cobb will listen. So I want those voices to be careful & wise. I want those voices to be full of passion & joy. I want those voices to be true to Scripture.

The bottom line is this…I want Baby Cobb to not only hear from Heather & me about gospel & all its beauty…I want others who will lovingly, carefully, strategically, joyfully & consistently share these truths as well! There is no doubt that I have a responsibility to unpack the truths of the Bible with my child…I should teach them about the seriousness of sin for example. But I also want Baby Cobb to have people point to the greatness & holiness of God. I want Sunday School teachers to speak confidently to Baby Cobb about the goodness of God in what Christ has done to rescue sinners.

So how will all this happen?

#1: Through Christians that Know & Love the Truth…look at what Paul said to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2.

“…What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

Paul says that it is important for Timothy to not only hold on to the truth, but to pass this truth along to others SO THAT they will pass it along to others. So if this is the case…then here’s a few things to consider:

-Do you know the truth of the gospel yourself?

-If you do know the truth of the gospel, are you passing it along intentionally to others?

#2: Through Christians that will Adorn the Truth…here’s what Paul said in Philippians 4:9.

“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

And when Paul writes to Titus, he wraps up a section on how the gospel shapes various people with this little statement in Titus 2:10.

“…So that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.”

Paul tells the Philippian church to follow his example, all of it…what they heard him say, what they saw do…practice those things. That’s a serious statement. How can he make that statement? Because he is doing what he writes to Titus: he is “adorning” the doctrine of God. The truth has taken deep root in his life. So with that in mind, ask yourself…

-What would it look like for you to “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior”?

-How can you encourage other Christians to not settle for anything less in their personal lives than adorning the truth of God?

I’m telling you…it is a crazy thought…but someone will teach Baby Cobb. Let’s make sure the next generation receives the truth of Scripture from Christians that know, love & adorn these truths.

For approximately 6 months, the OKC Marathon has been on my mind. This is because I signed up to run it with the encouragement of a few other friends. At the time, it sounded like a fun stimulant. Running can get a little old if you don’t have your sights set on something…and the marathon would definitely push me farther than I’d ever been pushed before. So let’s do this!

Training for the marathon has been challenging…mainly because it is quite consuming. There isn’t a day where the marathon doesn’t cross your mind. You find yourself doing calculations on your pace, you wonder if you’re training enough or too much or just the right amount. You study the forecast to figure out when the wind won’t be blowing with gusts of 30 mph or more…and based on that forecast your day’s schedule takes shape.

It is also challenging because it is long. You train for months. Most of the months are when the weather isn’t all that pleasant. And this long training for a marathon can wear you down. I started out feeling great & then an injury to my knee slowed me down…eventually shutting my running down for a period of time. The training has been hard.

But now here we are…a little over a week before the marathon. And I feel ready. Maybe I’m just making myself think I’m ready…but I’ll take it. As I prepare to run, here are a few thoughts on the Marathon…

1. Marathons are Unique: 26.2…that’s what every person will go. There will be one person who wins the overall race, but every person that runs this marathon will be able to take home satisfaction & joy in the fact that they did it. 26.2.

As my good friend Worm Johnson said the other day, “I’m not running this for time, I’m running it to survive.” I think he’s on to something…every person will go that distance & it should bring joy to them no matter their time. That’s different from most every other competition.

2. Pain will Come: That’s basically the gist of the title…it is coming. No matter how much you train, it seems that you hit a point where it gets tough. I’m trying to get my mind prepared for the pain that is coming…whether it arrives at mile 8, or mile 14, or mile 20…it will come.

3. Community Matters: I’m counting on this being true on race day. Having random people cheering for you is great, having family & friends cheer for you is even better. I’m glad to have lots of people asking about the marathon & encouraging me along the way. It has made a huge difference so far & I’m confident it will do so on April 27. So just know that it is deeply appreciated. I’m nervous, I’m anxious…but I’m glad to be able to enjoy the gift of friends & family that God has provided.