Marathon
 It was the late 1970's, and there I stood on the Williamsport Area High School track for the dreaded gym class. The mission: run the mile in twelve minutes, which was about four times around. The problem: I had failed to make the time the year before and was uncertain how I was going to manage this year. My brother was the athletic one, not me. I was embarrassed and knew I needed help.
   Sometime later, I spotted my friend Bruce. He was also going to gym, but a different class. He knew I was worried, so I told him my dilemma. He smiled and said, "Don't worry. I will run it with you." He got permission, and we headed to the track. As usual, the confident students were laughing and chatting with the coach. He often ran with them. Bruce gave me a pep talk. "I will make the pace, and you will stay with me. I promise you will be able to do this!" His warm smile and cheery confidence bolstered my spirit. "You don't look at any other students or even think of them. Just run, and I will be with you the whole way."
   That was the best run I ever had in my life. Someone was right beside me; I wasn't alone in the struggle! My whole mindset had positively changed, and it spread to my feet. And I made the time, but, only because of Bruce. This lesson, learned as a teen, has stayed with me.
   Life is our race. Will we run it with character, integrity and intentionality? What happens when we get discouraged, tired or lonely? What happens when we are so burdened we don't think we can even manage, like I felt before the twelve minute mile run?
   As ever, God gives us a roadmap.   Hebrews 12:1 encourages us to "lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (NAS). Shortly before his death, Paul writes, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7 NIV).
   In this race of life we all need a support system. Endurance is possible with the right team, just as Bruce was for me. He was practicing Galatians 6:2 "Bear ye one another's burdens,  and so fulfill the law of Christ" (KJV). We can help to carry, whether figuratively or literally, another 's load. In other words, take the burden upon ourselves by kindly sympathy. Our Lord Himself  would "bear" the physical infirmities of those whom He healed.
   Ellicott's Commentary reads: As we assist “others in their distress, of whatever kind that distress may be – whether physical, mental, or moral – the Christian will best fulfill that ‘new commandment’ bequeathed to him by his Master, the ‘law of love’”(1).
   Running the race of life is as difficult as a physical run. We get tired, sweaty, sore, stretched and sometimes torn, whether it is emotionally, mentally, spiritually or physically. Occasionally we may  just want to quit. Remember, however, that we can make it! Hope always remains through Jesus Christ. He empowers us for the race, and He runs it with us. Sometimes, He sends a  special person to help in bearing our burdens. Often, He calls us to be that special person to help carry another’s burden. May we also be able to say at the end of our lives, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
-Rebecca Logan, Retired UPMC Chaplain, and member Lycoming Valley Baptist Church, Montoursville.
Religious Editorials are provided by United Churches of Lycoming County - http://www.uclc.org/