Sunday, September 6, 2009

Dash or Long Distance?

Lenya in Ephesus beside Nike sculpture

Driving along Rio Grande, on the way to church this morning, I witnessed the final stragglers push through the last mile of the New Mexico Marathon. Some still ran, others managed to race walk, and a few drew fresh energy from road-side encouragers. But others looked like they’d barely limp across the finish line. The scene jogged this thought, “The race of faith isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon!” After nearly 70 days battling this illness, I feel tired. I’ve been a trooper muscling my way through surgery, CT scans, and gruesome procedures. I’ve hurdled past chemo, hair loss, and nausea. But about now, with four more treatments to go, I'd like to be done. I don’t want all the attention or the slow speed of recoup and recovery. I know that others have suffered longer and deeper. I’m fully aware that God knows my dusty frame and exactly how much it can take. But sometimes trials seem to linger just a little too long. After you round one corner, another curve takes its place. “Hey, who keeps moving the finish line?”

Perhaps living “life at the speed of Internet” breeds impatience. If something doesn’t happen instantly, then it’s a nanosecond too long. Think of it, in just one decade we abandoned snail mail for email. And now that’s too slow. Today, we text and twitter in real time with a lexicon of abbreviated phrases instead of grammatical sentences. There’s no need to drive to the local library to research on the micro-fiche scanning endless films to find your data. Now, from the convenience of your own home, just tip tap your way to Google to retrieve exhaustive and instant results.

FYI, the Bible doesn’t offer short-cuts, abbreviations, or a face-track to faith. The writer of Hebrews coaches us to, “run with endurance the race that God has set before us” (Heb. 12:1). Emphasis lies upon the word “endurance.” It describes both the mileage as well as the mind-set the runner must achieve. The Greek translation means patience, continuance, or waiting; implying a great distance. However, endurance can also be interpreted as cheerful or hopeful; describing a godly attitude. For Christians our journey should be long and light-hearted.

I’ve drawn inspiration from Bill Broadhurst who entered the Pepsi Challenge 10K race in Omaha, Nebraska. Ten years prior his left side became paralyzed after an aneurysm damaged his brain. One July morning he joined 1,200 lithe-looking runners at the starting line. The crowd lurched at the gun shot start. Bill threws his stiff left leg forward, pivoted on it as his right foot hit the ground. His slow plop-plop-plop rhythm seemed to mock him as the pack faded into the distance. Sweat rolled down his face, pain pierced his ankle, but he kept going. Six miles and two hours and twenty-nine minutes later, Bill reached the finish line. A man approached him from a small group of bystanders. It was Bill Rodgers, the famous marathon runner and winner of this particular race. “Here,” says Rodgers, putting his medal around Bill’s neck, “You’ve worked harder for this than I have.”

So know I must learn how to plod when all my life I’ve plowed. It’s not about the dash but the distance. You might say that I’m in training for the big one. Sure I may have a couple of 5Ks or 10Ks under my belt. But life is a marathon. I’m assured that once “I have finished the race…there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:7-8).



  1. I can't believe there are no comments to this insightful, heartfelt, Godly wisdom! This is the crux of Christianity, the lifeblood of our faith. Thank you so much for your inspiring words, Lenya as I walk along a man who is limping, knowing that his walk will not end on this earth in hope of good health, but a steady stroll down the path of increased pain and disability. He goes with the grace of the Lord and more joy than I have ever seen him have, knowing that it doesn't end in defeat, but victory in our Lord! Love, Tina

  2. thanks so much Lenya for sharing your journey, I hope our prayers help the burden a bit

  3. Ah, Lenya, today's entry has spoken so directly to my tired and aching soul that I am moved to actually weep. Despite your weakness and tears, our LORD is pouring out His strength so that you continue to bless so many of us through your honest and intimate blogging. I know He is using you during this season's marathon to touch, and comfort the hearts and souls of many, many people in ways in which you cannot imagine. I am continuing to pray that you will indeed seek His strength to plod along, just one day at a time right now, all the while clinging dearly to Jesus and His word. And please don't hesitate to allow all of us who love you to be your water stops, your cheering side-line supporters. God bless you this week especially that you are encouraged in His infinite wisdom and unshakable faithfulness.

  4. Lenya, I had the thought you might be tiring about now. When I was going through a "Garden of Gethsemane" experience, (not physical but rather a life situation due to my own sinful choices), I had these 2 'thoughts'. Remember the radio emergency tests? "This is a test, this is only a test, for the next 3o seconds..." was one thought and it cheered me, at first. But the test lasted much longer than 30 seconds and I was strong at first, then tiring of the "test", these words seemed to mock me! The other thought was a verse the LORD Jesus gave to me at a communion service that Skip was teaching. John 13:7 says: Jesus answered and said to him, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this." Skip read that verse as part of the passage, but didn't stop to teach on it or anything. But the LORD emblazoned it on my heart! And I clung to that verse for about 1 1/2 years with tears and doubts, I have to admit. Then, before service one day, I was explaining to a friend at church about all the LORD had changed in my life and He whispered, "Now you understand." Don't know if He will choose to use this specific verse in your life the same way, but I wanted to share it with you! All we Schweitzers love you, Lenya, and will continue praying for you!! I know He will keep whispering to you His Wonderful Words of LIFE!

  5. Such a touching post - thank you Lenya! Thank you for sharing your joys and sorrows, mountaintops and valleys. We are there with you in prayer - helping to hold your arms up in this battle so you come out victorious. You are loved!

  6. Hi Lenya,
    Thank you for your words and for sharing your heart. I often go to your blog just to see if you have shared anything new...because I may be growing weary or loosing heart and just wanted to see someone I know is further down the road, share in raw - "real time" what they are enduring and how they are hanging on to His promises inspite of it. Thank you for taking the time to share your story because it really does help others keep their eye on the finish line...even if it does seem further today then maybe yesterday or a week ago ( I can relate to that! ).
    I believe people really want to hear truth and reality in the midst of suffering and that includes all of it...or how could it minister to others if they couldn't relate to hanging on for one more round or going one more lap or waiting on Him even during the last 1/2 hour.
    You are a blessing and I pray the Lord will encourage you and keep giving you glimpses of Him and His glory as you press forward and endure and continue on. He is using you to help others endure and keep on going, I know, Im one of them!You may not know me or my trial or suffering but knowing yours helps me in mine. Thank you!

  7. Dear Lenya,
    Thank you for your honesty.......trials are so hard to say the least....I have been going through a very low valley for well over a year now and am looking forward to reach the hilltop. I was reading this morning and was reminded that the mark of a disciple states, "Thy will be done", and the mark of a mature disciple states,"Thy will I love". I pray that I can continue to love His will in my life. You have shown me many times how to climb a mountain when times are tuff....thank you for your heart and your really does help.
    I am continuing to pray for you and your family during this "marathon".
    Blessings to you.......Helen

  8. you are such an awesome writer it is true we are all in a race in life.
    we are all in different lanes but sure does feel like the finishing line keeps moving.
    thank you for your inspiritions.
    we love you and pray for you daily
    love you rick and linda martin

  9. Lenya, it was such a blessing to have you teaching the Women @ Calvary yesterday. It truly is an answer to prayer, not unexpectedly. You looked terrific! Yesterday you gave us a wonderful gift of your time and energy. Thank you so much. I pray that we'll all have open ears and eyes, and fertile hearts to receive what the Lord has to give us this semester.

  10. Beautiful writing, filled with wisdom that only living the Gospel can bring. Looks to me like the Holy Spirit, the writer is right there with you.

    He is allowing you the beauty and insight and wisdom that only comes from God. How perfectly He polishes His gems. How pained, aggravated, spoiled at times our flesh can become as it screams out at the immeasurable and incomprehensible.

    Then we do see those who have lived through the fire, the battle, the pain, the sickness...and stand amazed. But only they know what it is really like. Only they see the face of Jesus in that place and really know.

    Thank you sweet Lenya for sharing the beauty of His presence in this pace. We are walking with you merely in prayers..and thoughts,

    Lovingly, Susan

  11. Lenya, I've been trying to figure out all week how to respond to your post, as if my words could somehow fix things, make it all better. I think instead of saying anything at all, I'm just going to do what Job's friends should have done, which is to just be there for you.


  12. You look radiant. Your fortitude helps me cope with my own hurdle.