The Soldier Marathon Runners… Can I Have French Fries Please?

by | May 19, 2008 | Focus, Jesus

“Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs-he wants to please his commanding officer.” (2 Tim 2:3-4 NIV)

As usual I was running late. In fact, I was rushing into my shoes and coat when it happened: The phone rang.

“Not again!” I muttered. “Why do people always have to call me just as I’m walking out the door???”

Frustrated, I ran for the phone. I stopped for a second before picking it up, however. I needed to calm down. After all, the person on the other end of the line had no idea that he caught me just leaving! I took a deep breath: “Hello? How can I help you?”

“Are you Rob Chaffart?” The annoying intruder asked.

“Well, uh, yes. Why?”

His response was totally unexpected: “You have been selected to represent our city in the next marathon!”

“Ma . . . Ma . . . Marathon?” I stammered. “Are you sure you have the right person?” I was so much in shock that I forgot all about the panic I had been in to leave the house. My poor kids would just have to wait for me to pick them up . . .

“Absolutely! We know you can do it. Will you consider our offer?”

“Uh . . . I’m not sure how to say this but there’s just one little technical difficulty! I don’t run! My wife does though. Maybe you got us confused.” I was rambling and I knew it. But what was I supposed to do? “It’s true that I am trying to walk at least ten thousand steps everyday, but a marathon run, that’s a bit beyond my abilities! You definitely want to speak to my wife. She’ll be home in . . . “

“No sir, we don’t mean your wife,” came the surprising response. “It’s you we want!”

I was perplexed, flabbergasted, confused! “When is this . . . This run?”

“You have two months to prepare. Plenty of time!”

Two months? Plenty of time? What? I had to stall for time. I had to think of a way out of this! But how? “Uhhh . . .” I ventured. “I’ve put on a few pounds since my youth. My only chance of winning that race is if someone rolls me like a barrel . . .”

“Sir, we haven’t chosen you for your physical abilities, but because you meet our most important criteria. We’ve chosen you because . . . Because you are a Christian!”

“A-a Chr-Christian?” I was stammering again. My heart was racing at the mere thought of pounding the pavement for 26 miles. I had to get out of this! “But-but wh-why does being a Christian qualify me to run a marathon?”

“Christians have the ability to focus on their goal. In fact, you were specifically recommended because of a devotional you wrote based on Heb 12:2!”

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…” I mumbled, fighting to find the meaning in all of this.

“One other thing!” The voice insisted. “When you run, you’ll need to be dressed in a soldier’s uniform, complete with weapons.”

My eyes popped open. Just the thought of wearing all of that gear while running was enough to work me into a sweat! “What kind of a marathon run is this?” I demanded.

“Many run the marathon, but few reach the finish line,” replied the voice.

” But . . . I’ve never heard of such a thing!”

The calmness of the response was unnerving. “Sir, have you ever watched a marathon?”

“Uh . . . No . . . I can’t say I ever did.”

“There will be vendors all along the course, trying to lure you away from your run with their neon signs. It’s enough to distract most of the runners from their goal. In fact, many world-class runners get so sidetracked that they remain at the stands for most of the race!”

“What kind of stands are you talking about?” I asked.

“One stand is ‘Lust’. It’s a popular one, and most runners who stop there usually end up chained to the stand. Another stand is ‘Pleasures of this World’, another is labeled ‘Financial Gain’, and another calls itself ‘Drugs’. The list could go on, but this is why it is of utmost importance to wear the entire soldier’s gear while running. You have no idea how luring these neon signs can be, and your ability to actually finish the race depends on your weapons. Human determination alone will not be enough.”

Now I was REALLY confused: “What kind of weapons as you talking about?”

“They are mentioned in your Bible. I’m sure you’re familiar with the verses of Ephesians 6:13-18, but in case you’re not, let me quote that text.”

Before I can assure him that I was, indeed, familiar with the text, he began: “‘Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.’

“One good thing,” continued the voice, “is that anyone who runs and disciplines themselves to look solely at the goal wins! You may be familiar with 1 Cor 9:24-27: ‘Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.’

There was a pause on the other end of the line, then the voice again repeated its former polite request: “Will you run that race for us?”

Then I woke up.

What a dream! Or better, what a nightmare! Suddenly it all became clear: I was already running that marathon race! In fact all of us are! And yes, everyone who passes the finish line wins the prize: Eternal life! The opportunity to walk with Jesus, our Lord and Master!

The road isn’t easy, however. The devil will hamper our progress by throwing every possibly temptation our way. He’s ruthless and he’ll use anything to keep us from fixing our eyes on our goal: Jesus Christ. This is why we are referred to as soldiers of Christ (see 2 Tim 2:3-4). A soldier is willing to die for his country. Are we willing to die for Jesus? Are we willing to destroy any encumbrances that interfere with our run with Christ?

This is why we are also called runners (see 1 Cor 9:24-27). In order to run, you have to be physically fit, something that is only obtainable through painful sacrifice, by beating one’s “body and make it one’s slave” (1Cor 9:27)

So are you ready for this marathon race you are already running? Those extra pounds need to come off anyway. And don’t worry. As long as you listen to your personal trainer, Jesus Christ, you WILL reach the finish line! May you never let down your guard. May you fix your eyes upon Jesus and Him alone. May you use the authority He has bestowed on you: “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor 10:4-5 NIV)

Rob Chaffart


The Soldier Marathon Runners… Can I Have French Fries Please?