A Lesson From the Boston Marathon

Posted by Paul Suckling on April 18, 2011

Jackie Kenyon is running for a purpose. Her story can help inspire us in our Christian race.

Today, April 18, the prestigious Boston Marathon is being run. Runners come from many countries to participate. This year 2011 is no exception. Of the 10 men runners who are expected to be among the first across the line, five are from Kenya, four are from Ethiopia and one is from the United States.

Among the top 10 women, four are from Ethiopia, four are from Kenya, one is from New Zealand and one is from the U.S. These are the star runners who will be striving to either win or break their own best time, and no doubt all will do very well.

Not in the top 10, but front-page news

But there is one runner featured this year on the front page of theBoston Globe newspaper (April 15) who isn’t in the top 10. Her name is Jackie Kenyon, and she is a recovering drug addict, a formerly homeless woman who, by her own admission, stole from high-end stores to feed her drug habit. She is a child of alcoholic parents, a victim of domestic abuse and a convicted criminal who spent nine years bouncing between jails in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. And now she is a marathon runner.

Her incredible story is told by Shira Springer of the Globe. This year is Jackie’s third time running 26.2 miles, but her first time as an official entrant, and she hopes to complete the marathon in 4 hours and 15 minutes. That’s about twice the time of the top runners, but Jackie isn’t interested in just speed—it’s crossing the line and finishing that is her goal.

After sobering up, she decided to help others. She runs to raise funds for Runners in Recovery, and Jackie also counsels other women. The article has the headline “Dedication Carries Woman Beyond Addiction, Crime and Homelessness.”

The article quotes Bobby Balfour, coach of Runners in Recovery, describing his reaction when he first heard Jackie’s full story: “You’ve got to be kidding me. In my 23 years of dealing with this stuff and being in recovery, I’ve never run across anybody as dedicated to getting their act together as Jackie.”

Jackie’s is quite a story. What lesson is in this for us?

God’s marathon course

A called and committed Christian has been placed by God on His marathon course. It’s not a 26.2-mile long course that requires a few hours of hard work and struggle, but a lifetime of building character by living according to His rules and laws.

In Matthew 24:13 we are reminded that “he who endures to the end shall be saved.” We must complete the course. The reward is eternal life with God and Christ and serving in His eternal family.

Marathon runners face all kinds of troubles as they run: shin splints, muscle cramps, tiredness, thirst, etc. To cross the line, they must keep going.

People like Jackie Kenyon will inspire many to address their problems and do something about them. She is running with a goal in mind—to help others.

For Christians, our goal is to finish the course, to build the character God is looking for and to await the return of Christ in order to help others—to serve in God’s eternal Kingdom and family.

Shira Springer wrote an inspiring article for us to read. God has written the Scriptures to show us our purpose and to inspire us to strive for the finish linethat is yet ahead.

Paul Suckling is a pastor of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, in New England. 

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