A friend once told me that the key to running marathons and longer distance races is to break it up into "bite-sized pieces" and learning to celebrate small milestones. Having ran quite a few marathons already, I have found this to be helpful and true.
At the starting line, while I have the long-term objective of finishing the race and under a certain time goal, I also mentally set smaller intermediary goals that I try to meet along the way- like running the first few miles at a certain pace, or getting to the aid station by a certain time. Later in the race when I am already tired, my goal is to take it a mile at a time. Sometimes I set the goal at the moment, like getting up the hill without walking, or passing the runner a few yards in front of me, or at least keeping in pace.
As I reach each small milestone, I allow myself to celebrate. I clench my fist, say "yes!" or tell myself, "good job!" Usually, I just smile. And that is another tip from my running buddy. Smile while running! Smiling stimulates our brain to produce endorphins which are natural painkillers, something one needs in running long distances. Plus, smiling just gives you a better disposition all around.
So I celebrate the small milestones and I smile, for each small goal met means I am closer and closer to the big goal of finishing the race!
Last Sunday, I presided over my last church conference of this season which started in October. While I know that it won't be my last as Superintendent, I know it is my last until later this year. While I also know that my role is not just about leading church conferences, it's good to know that one church conference season is over for me! So I will allow myself to celebrate this milestone! I will say, "Yes!" and "Thanks be to God!"
Life is a long distance race. While the ultimate goal is to finish strong, or in the words of Paul, "to finish the race and keep the faith!", I hope and pray that you would be able to break life up into smaller, bite-sized goals. And as you meet those milestones, I hope that you would allow yourself to celebrate! And don't forget to smile!
Your fellow disciple,