My husband finds it a bit strange that I read three different running magazines – and that every month, I look forward to receiving the latest edition of all three. How many things can be written about running? After all, running involves throwing on some shoes and putting one foot in front of the other, just at a faster rate than a walk. How complicated is that? I, on the other hand, look forward to reading the latest month’s Runner’s Word, Running Times and Trail Runner magazines. These magazines offer me different training programs, tips on preventing injury (based on a recent experience, I should spend more time on these articles) and reports on famous runners. My favorite type of article, however, is one that tells a story about someone who has beaten the odds, overcome obstacles or defied all logic by succeeding at or because of running.
One such article was about Glenn Cunningham, the 1936 Olympic silver medalist in the 1500 Meter run. When Glenn was 8 years old, his legs were so badly burned in a fire that the doctors working on him recommended amputation. He lost the flesh on his knees, shins and the toes on his left foot. Also, the arch of one of his feet was practically destroyed. Glenn and his parents did not accept the doctors’ recommendation, nor did they accept the prediction that Glenn would likely never walk again. Glenn’s powerful determination, incredible positive attitude and his faith in God helped him through hours and years of therapy. His favorite verse in the bible is one my favorites, as well: Isaiah 40:31 “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Because he never gave up, Glenn Cunningham became known as one of the greatest runners of all time. In 1934, he set the world record for the mile. In 1936 he set the world record for the 800 meter run, and of course, in 1936 he won the silver medal in the 1936 Olympics.
Why do some people experience amazing accomplishments such as this while others do not? Those who believe in and follow the Scriptures may wonder this due to the verse in Philippians 4:13 reminding us that we CAN do all things through Christ who gives us strength. There may be more than one reason, but I am confident in sharing one of them with you. It’s so painfully obvious, yet must be said. Those who never give up accomplish so much more than those who do. In Glenn Cunningham’s case, he was 8 years old when he was told he likely would never walk again – and this was told to him by doctors, men who were far more educated and experienced than him. In two years, Glenn took his first step on his own. On paper that sounds doable, but remember when you were eight? Think back to when you were that young. Then imagine for the next (approximately) 730 days you have to experience the pain and frustration of physical therapy – never really knowing if it was going to work. Would you keep going after 30 days? How about 100 days? How about 729 days? What if on day 729 Glenn had had enough of this? He certainly had never been given any guarantees that this grueling work would lead to the ability to walk again. Of what I’ve read about this amazing athlete, giving up likely never crossed his mind. Two years marked the time it took for him to make his first step on his own, but there was so much more work to be done to bring him to a place of becoming a world class athlete.
Knowing what Scripture says in Philippians 4:13, I’ve wondered why Christians aren’t doing the most amazing things every day and all day long when we believe we can do all things through Christ. I believe one reason may be that not all of us are willing to never give up – to trust that this verse is true, no matter how long it takes, trusting that God’s timing is perfect. Many have their 729th day, but few hang in there to their 730th day, because we don’t know in advance when that day that will be. It’s easier to believe on day one than it is to believe on day 729. When we give up, it is certain we will not accomplish the goal placed before us. I want to encourage you to hang in there to your day 730, even if that day turns into day 1,730. There is so much to lose by quitting and so much victory that God can accomplish through you when you are willing to trust Him – no matter how long it takes. Don’t miss your day 730.