Life is a marathon, not a sprint

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 19, 2018

Graduates, at this special time in your life, you deserve applause for your accomplishments. You have reached a milestone by earning your high school or college diploma.
The majority of you have spent most of your life in your educational training. You are now in the starting block of a race that you will run for the rest of your life. This is not a sprint. Rather, it’s a marathon.
The word “marathon” comes from a Greek legend about a messenger who raced nearly 26 miles with important news from a battlefield near the town of Marathon, Greece, in 490 B.C. to announce the defeat of the Persians to the anxious residents of Athens. Similarly, you have probably heard messages delivered to you in recent weeks.
In his commencement address to the graduates of Dillard University in New Orleans in 2015, Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington, stated “Do what you feel passionately about…Don’t be afraid to fail big, to dream big. But remember, dreams without goals are just dreams…to achieve goals you must apply discipline and consistency.” He concluded his speech with these words, “Don’t aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference.”
In the long run, you will do well to remember the words of the Apostle Paul, “…Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31 NKJ). If John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, could speak to you today, he would say, “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can, as long as you ever can.”
You will face obstacles in this marathon of life, but remember the words of Winston Churchill during World War II, “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
You are now beginning a relay race. As your parents and grandparents who have come before you slow down and retire or approach the end of their race, they are passing the baton to your generation. They are cheering you on.
There are over 100 scriptures in the Bible that mention running – many of them apply to the Christian race of faith. For instance, the writer of Hebrews says, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1 NKJ).
The Apostle Paul left us his example, “…but one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13 – 14). Like the Apostle Paul, I encourage you to be able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7).

Jan White is an national award-winning religion columnist. She can be reached at