The Jerusalem Marathon takes place this year on Friday, March 17. Thousands of runners are expected to participate from dozens of different countries.
How would you describe your life as it becomes dotted with your own personal marathons – ordinary or splendid? With so many people running the race on the same track, how do you stand out?
Someone might quit his job to focus on marathon training with the dream of becoming a professional athlete. Another may run a marathon in order to make an impressive marriage proposal to his love at the finish line. That would certainly make them stand out.
My reason for running the Jerusalem Marathon the last few years was solely because of my Lord and His companionship.
Since 2014, I have participated in the Jerusalem Marathon. In the beginning, running in races was nothing new to me as I had done so in Hong Kong a few times in either the 10K or half marathon tracks. The more I ran, the more I loved it! Aside from working on my tenacity and willpower, I enjoyed my conversations with the Lord during my runs. I would not wear earphones to listen to music. Rather, I would enjoy various sounds: the sound of footsteps and my heartbeats, the sound of participants cheering each other on and, more important, kind and encouraging words from my Lord. This was the most beautiful music to me throughout the race!
During a long race, it often feels like you are running alone, but, as a matter of fact, many people are running with you. You are not normally with the same fellow runners from start to end, but several along the way as each is running his own pace. But I know there is one who is with me the whole way – my LORD, my Jesus Christ! He is in my heart; He is with me every step of the race.
According to the author who wrote Jerusalem: The Biography, “Jerusalem is the only city where heaven and hell co-exist.” As the same author quoted from Talmud, “Ten measures of beauty descended to the world, nine were taken by Jerusalem.”
Why Jerusalem? One of the oldest cities in the world, Jerusalem is considered holy by the three major Abrahamic religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Jews’ built their Temple here; later the holiness of Jerusalem was reinforced by the New Testament account of Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection in this very city; and, according to the Quran, it was also here that Mohammed ascended to heaven! The word “Jerusalem” appears in the Bible more than 800 times, while the city itself underwent countless sieges and battles. That’s why some would say, “Every stone of this city has a story to tell!”
With this in mind, could you imagine how amazing it is to run the Jerusalem Marathon, which covers both modern and ancient neighborhoods of the same city? As you cruise amid those modern and artistic buildings and then pass through the ancient walls, you feel as if you are running the routes that King David, the prophets and Jesus Himself trod in their times. Isn’t it amazing to run from the Old to the New testament?
What is most appealing is that you begin to understand deeper the faithfulness and mercifulness of God towards His people – from the moment He established His covenant with Abraham, to today, and all of His promises waiting to be fulfilled! His people may be stubborn and obstinate, may sin against Him again and again. Jerusalem was destroyed, rebuilt and destroyed. Still, His faithfulness and His mercies never change. This compelled me to follow His love for His people.
“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore.” Psalm 125:2
In 2014, it was hard for me to finish my first Jerusalem Half Marathon as the city’s hilly terrain made many sections extremely challenging. And yet it led to my literally experiencing how “the mountains surround Jerusalem.” Eying the Jerusalem stones, I found myself recalling how Jesus wailed and prayed for this city, how Jesus went through the Via Dolorosa to accomplish salvation. Then and there, carrying on with my own race, I could not help doing exactly that – pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
In 2015, I decided to do something different with my second Jerusalem half marathon: Not only pray for the city during my run, but also to take action. I opted to run for a cause. I chose to dedicate my race to helping an organization that brings joy and hope to children who are combating terminal illnesses.
This is my third year fundraising for the same institution. Even though the amount I raise may be small, I prayed that if God would let me live until 99 I would run every year until then to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and fundraise for His people.
This is the way to offer my sacrifice to my Lord. This the way I make my marathon splendid.
What about you? Any plans to participate in one of the upcoming Jerusalem Marathons?
Wishing you a splendid life marathon.