#1 - the first 23km
Psalm 104:3 'you set the beams of your chambers on the waters, you make the clouds your chariot, you ride on the wings of the wind...'
It's a fresh morning and you feel good, ticking along on schedule and everything is working well. Nothing seems to stand in your way, the scenery is great, the showers have subsided, and you're in Queenstown! All seems right with the world, and the smooth back roads of Speargrass Flat whistle by.
#2 - kms 24-35
Psalm 88:3-4 'For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol. I am counted among those who go down to the Pit; I am like those who have no help...'
How to explain the darkness after the light that came before? Wind gusts, grit and doubt are your companions. Eyes narrow, gut clenches and shoulders seize. Nothing seems possible any more. Moving forward is a depressing grind, seemingly without end.
#3 - kms 36-40
Psalm 148:13 'Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven.'
From up high, a break in the clouds can afford you a view of the sunlit valley below. You remember that there is hope, and that you once could run free and without hurt. You overtake five people you last saw an hour ago. A fellow traveler (like an angel?) draws along side as you blow past those who are flagging. Second wind goes whoosh! Your eyes are bright with the joy of the possibility.
#4 kms - 41-42.2
Psalm 23:4 'Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me;
your rod and your staff— they comfort me.'
Gravity stronger and air is thicker here, preventing the movement of human limbs. Locals shout encouragement, but their words deflect back off the alternative reality bubble you are trapped in. Are they friend or foe? Then it is done, and tears of relief well up. Rest is now a distinct possibility. The grass is soft.
Someone said to me recently, every marathon teaches you something. The distance is long enough to have chapters or seasons, particularly for those not built like gazelles. Life is a bit like that, and it's a good thing to remember sometimes. May you know God's presence in every season, and always allow for hope and grace to break through. Have a great week...