The Pain, the Medal, and The Power of Human Connection

Sep 10, 2012 | Faith

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses…..let us run the race marked out for us.”  Hebrews 12:1

I got the medal.

But the lessons from running a half-marathon
 are greater than a medal.

Yesterday was race day. The music was pumping and the street was lined with people as we joined thousands of others in the Great Race.  The day was pristine as the sun rose over Lake Michigan. I felt like Rocky and God was smiling down will all imaginable blessings. 

Do you know those moments?

About mile 3 I told my friend to go ahead.  I knew my pace needed to be slower if I was to make it to the end.  She was exceeding her personal time and I didn’t want to hold her back. She would faithfully turn back to check on me and I’d give her a thumbs up, until about mile 4-5.  I told her to go on as I felt a strain in my knee.  It was as if my muscles were pulling tighter every time I lifted my knee only to have it jarred as my foot hit the pavement.

About mile 8 both knees were hurting and my head was screaming, “I can’t do this. I can’t make it.”  The road was getting long.  Lake Michigan was not so pretty anymore and the sun was stinkin’ hot.  All I wanted to do was get on a bike I saw on the pathway beside me.  My self-talk ping-ponged between  “I can’t do this” and “You have no other choice.”

And so I ran.

As the mile markers increased and the end seemed farther away, I was more aware of the people along the thoroughfare.  Bands, cheerleaders, and ringing cowbells.  People with signs “run as if you stole something” and “picture my x-wife behind you.”  People encouraging, cheering, witnessing my journey.  I couldn’t hide from any one.  I couldn’t ditch behind a bush and pretend I finished well.  I had to get to the finish line, period.

God’s word talks about a “great cloud of witnesses” in Hebrews 12.  This is what I experienced.  A group of people hoovering around me, cheering me on, giving me verbal strength, encouragement, and accountability to finish. At mile 9, I had no motivation to finish.  I hurt.  I was done.  I didn’t need the medal in that moment.  But the people along the road and those at the finish line were holding me accountable to finish the race.  

And so I ran.

Honestly, whether the race is literal or figurative, sometimes you just want to give up.  Sometimes you literally need people saying, “Come on!”  People to hold you accountable.  Like my friend and husband waiting for me at the finish line.  In life, aren’t we are all witnesses to someone who needs our faith, encouragement and accountability?  Who needs to hear you say again and again, “You can do this?”

Because sometimes, in the moment,
 Jesus is not enough.

I’m appalled that I just said that.

But frankly, my faith was not enough yesterday when my legs were screaming and I wanted rest.

For me, it was the great cloud of witnesses who got me to the finish line. The cloud of witnesses in life are those who walk with us in hard times, who won’t let us quit, and who are there all the way to the end.

Yesterday, I learned the power of “Jesus with skin on”. 

since you are surrounded 
by a great cloud of witnesses, 
………fix your eyes on Jesus.”

Therefore and since 
we experience the 
power of human encouragement, 
we are able to fix our eyes on Jesus. 

I’m wondering who you need
 to be a great witness for?  
or maybe 
you’re in the 9th mile right now
in need of someone 
cheering you on
Who can you ask
 to pray for you, 
to walk along side of  you,
 to hold you accountable?  

It would be my privilege, if needed, 
to be one of those witnesses, 
praying for you as you are running life’s race.

In the end, 
I got the medal,
 cried with my friend, 
and iced my sore knee.  

no less, 
to that great cloud of witnesses.

“Father, thank you for creating us to be in relationship with others.  Thank you that you don’t call us to walk life’s paths alone.  Thank you that you bring people beside us to challenge us, encourage us, and to be your hands and feet, hugs and tears.  Equip each one of us to run our race with others, to encourage and seek accountability.  Thank you, Lord, for the beauty of human connection.”  Amen.

It would be my privilege to be a prayer partner for you.  Let me know via email how I can pray for you at  


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Do you feel trapped in a chaotic, relentless, demanding lifestyle? No matter where you live or what season of life you’re in, you can find inspiration from the simpler life. 


  1. michelle hs

    i’ve just found your blog or rather i was told to find your blog by my therapist. i just want to thank you for your honesty and vulnerability in putting your life out there for others to be encouraged. i’ve been encouraged.

  2. Anonymous

    And after all those difficult miles, all I see in your lovely face is the joy of Jesus! Thank you for sharing powerful reminders of the many privileges and responsibilities we share as part of the family of God, and for permission to sometimes actually need the encouragement that our friends in Christ offer.

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