Keith Wishum: Run for your life

Published 11:46 am Monday, February 12, 2018

Harding University at one time had a Kenyan connection in their athletic department. Most of their best distance runners came from that country, leading the university’s track and cross country teams to capture 17 All-American honors from 1996 to 2004. Not only at Harding, but around the world Kenyans have become almost synonymous with successful distance running. From 1991 to 2012, 19 of the 22 male winners of the Boston marathon were from Kenya. In the women’s division, 13 of the 17 winners from 2000 to 2017 were Kenyans.
Perhaps the key to their outstanding abilities will also help the rest of us open doors to success. So, what’s their secret?
Harding’s cross country coach, Ted Lloyd, once asked one of his early Kenyan runners Abe Kirwa how long he had been running. “I’ve always run,” the young man replied. “It was six miles to my school.”
“So you ran 12 miles each day?” asked the surprised coach.
“Oh, no sir,” said Kirwa, anxious to clarify the misunderstanding. He didn’t run 12 miles per day. “I had to come home for lunch, too.”
What made Kirwa a champion runner was running — and lots of it. He ran everywhere he went, running more than 24 miles a day as an elementary school student. Let that sink in. Can you imagine a third-grader running 24 miles a day?
The key to being what you want to be tomorrow is to be busy today becoming what you want to be. We’re all tempted to search for a hidden secret to success. It’s seductive to think there might somewhere be a hidden shortcut. But the truth is that the primary way to succeed is to work hard. Even the apostle Paul says that he had to work at it. He compares his spiritual preparation to the training of a distance runner. It involves “strict training” (1 Corinthians 9:25).
Here’s your challenging question for the day: What are you training to become? What skills or qualities are you working on today to improve your tomorrows?
If you have no answer, you will get no results. An athlete who stops training will soon cease to be an athlete. Wouldn’t the same be true of the spiritual condition of one who does not train?
To become a great runner like Abe Kirwa, one must run. Let’s “run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24).

Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church, Americus.