It was a 5K. Not a marathon. Not even a half marathon.

3.1 miles. I’ve walked further than that most days.

Running? Another story.

Every year, Orlando holds a corporate 5K sponsored by the Insurance Office of America and the Track Shack Youth Foundation. The purpose is to promote health and fitness and give back to the greater Central Florida Area. This was the 25th running of the 5K, and 160,033 meals were donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank as a result of funds donated.

It was a great big moving party. Over 18,000 participated. Over 700 companies and non-profits involved.

I’d signed up as a walker–my race bib was clearly marked.

My walking intentions went out the window when my three daughters, who also participated, and a friend decided to run/walk. Intervals. They were each wearing “Runner” bibs. My remarks about not fitting in because of my “Walker” status was ignored.

We were off. I used to run (not saying how long ago) and have a decent amount of stamina. I’m able to walk fast, but running is a different dynamic.

I’m incredibly determined. If I agreed to do this, I was all in. I ran the intervals, sparing everyone my comments because I didn’t have enough breath to talk. Took huge breaths when we slowed to a fast walk.

Water stations were at necessary places; bands played at intervals; people sat on sidewalks and porches and cheered everyone on. The atmosphere was celebratory.

My daughters were my heroes. All of them could have run fast and left me in the dust, but they chose to run with me. Their encouragement was fuel to my feet; I refused to let them down.

We all finished with smiles. People were high-fiving all around, congratulating one another on finishing well. No one commented on how fast or slow anyone ran. We were all in this together.

I hurt for the next three days.

My legs hurt when I stood, when I walked. I’d used muscles I hadn’t used in a while. I’d pushed myself past anything resembling comfort.

I was so glad I did.

It was worth it to be part of something bigger than me. To enjoy the company of friends and family and accomplishing good at the same time.

God made us with hearts to choose together.

It’s the race of life. Everyone has a different skill set, a different pace. But we’re all in it together. Some are naturally gifted as runners. Others have challenges that prevent them from running, but they still participate. There are those who insist on just watching, and they missed out on the fun and fellowship of the run.

We’re all part of the race. We choose our involvement and comfort level. We choose who we run with and how we interact with them.

Jesus came to level the playing field. To make it possible for all to participate together. For unity to become our heart desire. For togetherness to trump entitlement.

He is the source of our hope to live together in harmony.

Not everyone chooses that. But those who do find a wholeness that allows them to see things through a different grid.

That finish line is only the beginning.

 

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