Monday, June 13, 2005

Pressing on

On the first Sunday of every November for the last 36 years, the greatest city in the world effectively shuts down in order to accomodate 35,000 crazies who want to run outside my apartment building for the annual New York City Marathon. It's quite a sight. For nearly an hour a seemingly endless mob of people stream along 4th Avenue in Bay Ridge, on the Brooklyn side of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, where we live somewhere within the second mile of the 26-mile course. Much to my slovenly chagrin, several friends of mine have completed the run (it's not really a race for 90% of the runners who simply want to finish), including Dan Stoltzfus of New York City Relief. Dan successfully launched a fundraising gimmick running the marathon the year before P. Diddy raised a million dollars in the same way. (Note to self: it pays to get in shape.) Why am I writing about November marathons in June? Two reasons. First, today felt like a mini-marathon, with meetings regarding various unrelated subjects straight through from 8:30 am - 6:20 pm, without breakfast or lunch and a break only to take a subway from midtown to downtown. Then I crossed the finish line getting home and my son made it all worthwhile. Second, because every summer at Xcel is an extended marathon. The summer months are our most exciting and critical outreach season, but the grueling hours and oppressive heat and humidity (and no air conditioning at Xcel ... anyone care to make a contribution towards AC units?) combine to drain energy and invite challenges. I've read that the hardest part of any marathon is approximately mile 20. By then, one has run a far enough distance for the onset of physical and emotional exhaustion, but enough of a distance remains to urge one to give up. For the New York Marathon, this distance also coincides with a desolate industrial area of the Bronx. At Xcel Summer, it equates roughly to the 1st week in August, historically the most difficult week of every summer. We need to pace ourselves.

"Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. 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)


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