Lent is much like a spiritual marathon. I have never run a marathon, only a couple of 5K run/walk events which I opted for the walk choice. Still, there are some ideas about marathons which anyone can identify with whether runner or not. These ideas also give advice for running the long course of Lent, heading to the prize of Easter.
To complete a marathon one must set a good pace for the long haul. It is fun to watch children who want to run with parents. They begin with 100% energy and spirit. They also run out of steam quickly. If we are to complete the course of Lent, then we must pace ourselves. Each day be in God’s presence. Every moment breathe in the Holy Spirit. Maintain a consistent stride that will develop a practice of life-long discipleship.
To complete a marathon one must train with purpose. Have you ever heard of someone waking up on a Saturday morning and deciding to join a race? During Lent it is best to set a plan and prepare for the race to have endurance to finish. Planning for Lent is about choosing a spiritual discipline to practice, researching devotional material to meditate upon, and inviting another person to encourage and hold accountability.
When a marathon is complete most folks experience exhaustion and elation at the same time. Similarly at the completion of Lent, we experience the pain and joy of Holy Week and Easter. I have heard that marathon runners “hit the wall” at mile 20 of 26 and fight to finish those last few miles. We know that the new life and resurrection of Easter is close during the last week of Lent, but the week has the difficulty of Holy Week, experiencing the pain and suffering for Jesus. If we have endured the season of Lent until this point; if we have trained and planned; then we will complete the course of Lent and experience the full mix of emotion at the finish line, Easter morning.