As you know, pardners, this Saturday I'm hangin' up my spurs, gettin' the golden handshake, callin' it quits, turnin' in my badge, "going West, young man, going West," gettin' my 10 percent AARP discount, fallin' asleep on the couch, and applyin' for a job as a Wal-Mart greeter. The latter goal especially deserves something heroic, don't you think? So today I got up early and drove to the local trail to get in a "retirement" run.
Like careers, all runs have a finish line or ending point. Today my goal was to run 27.34 miles to celebrate God's amazing goodness to me during the past 44 years of teaching. Get the math?
27.34 miles = 44 kilometers.
When I finished the only thing that didn't hurt were my eyelashes. Sure, I pushed myself, but I know of no other way to live. My run today reminded me of why I taught all those years. I didn't teach because I wanted to but because I had to. I'm a teacher, so I teach. I know of no other way to live. The laughter, the camaraderie of my fellow teachers, the beautiful people we call students -- I thought about all these things as I ran today.
Tim Noakes, in his book The Lore of Running, says that the degree of discomfort felt in the marathon is the worst that most men (and most women outside of childbirth) ever experience. Why do we drive our bodies through that pain barrier? Running today was my way of saying "Thank you" to Jesus for giving me 44 wonderful years in the classroom. In 1976, teaching became a part of me. I can't even begin to imagine how different my life would have been had not Harry Sturz hired me to teach Greek. Teaching has introduced me to countless people who have taken the educational bull by the horns and then have soared. Have I soared? Was my career a success? I'll have to leave that to the Lord on the Day of Judgment. I do know this: Neither running nor being a Christian is a cakewalk. They require all-out effort. Worry about what others are thinking and you'll lose your focus. On the other hand, persistence and endurance are musts.
My friend, what has God called you to do and be? No race can be run by sitting on your laurels. You won't get far in an easy chair. You've got to run like the wind to win the prize.
Jesus, the prize is YOU. You will neither fail me nor abandon me in my older years. You are with me from now through eternity. I needn't be afraid or discouraged. I only need to follow you.