Saturday, I went downtown Indianapolis to cheer for the runners in the Indy 500 Mini Marathon. Ann Kroeker and her family had trained for the 13.1-mile event, so I decided to meet them at mile five.

If you have ever cheered someone on in a long running event, especially a family whose various members will be running at different paces, you will know it’s part art/part science trying to figure out what time they will make it to a specific spot on the course. I knew Ann’s husband would be running about a 10-minute mile, while Ann and her daughters might be at a pace anywhere between 12-minute to 14-minute miles. Add to that the fact that 35,000 people were participating, and it was anyone’s guess when they would even cross the starting line, much less the five-mile mark.
With the race starting at 7:38 a.m. (or some equally random, unrounded time), I decided if I got to mile 5 by 8:30 a.m., I should be able to see them all.
But it also meant I would have some time to kill.
So I studied the map, took my time parking, and a few minutes before 8:30 I was standing next to the large lighted sign with the giant 5 and the elapsed race time.
Rather than just standing there waiting for team Kroeker, I decided to cheer on the other runners who were participating. So even though I didn’t know most of them, I began clapping and cheering, saying things like, “Way to go, runners!” “You’re doing great!” “Wow, great pace!”
The runners that passed at the beginning were lean, confident, and though I hate to admit it, primarily male. Most of them didn’t even notice me standing there cheering for them. They had trained for the race, and the majority had probably run in dozens of similar events. They couldn’t have cared less whether I was there or not.
But as the pack progressed, the athletic prowess diminished. The pace was slower, the faces redder, and a few of the runners had already started to walk a few paces to catch their breath. While I still yelled things like, “Way to go,” my cheering began to change. I found myself calling out more encouraging phrases, like “You can do this!” and “This is what you trained for!” and even “Keep it up!”
As I stood there, I thought of Hebrews 11 that I read just that morning, and especially the verse that said, “For you have need of endurance.” And though the writer was commending spiritual perseverance, that’s what this race was to some of these people. For some of them, completing the half marathon would give them the courage to stay in a marriage or to quit smoking or to wake up the next day and keep going.
Once during the morning, I called out “Persevere!” but though the sentiment was right, it just didn’t seem like a word to yell at a sporting event. So, I just cheered them on the way I had been doing, smiling and clapping, occasionally giving them high fives.
After cheering on thousands of runners already, I was ecstatic to see Ann’s husband cross the five-mile threshold. I yelled out his name, grabbed his hand and patted him on the shoulder. He looked like the race was going well.
Next, Ann’s youngest daughter came through the five-mile mark with a friend.
“I saw your dad,” I told her. “You’re doing great! Keep it up!”
Before long, I saw Ann, giving her a hug as she passed by, then her oldest daughter, then her second oldest daughter.
As each of them passed through mile 5, I wondered what mile I am on, in life. I also thought of all the people who have cheered me on step by step. And I remembered another verse from Hebrews 11: “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraing one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
After the last of Ann’s daughters passed by, I started heading toward the car. There were still thousands of runners and walkers to come, but I couldn’t cheer them all on.
Just before I reached the car, I it started to rain.
::
My friend and fellow High Calling blogger, Amber Robinson, has also been thinking about perseverance. In the final installment of her online discussion of Mark Buchanan’s Spiritual Rhythm, Amber talks about what it means to not give up.
“Struggles either soften us. They tenderize our hearts. Or we get hardened to give up and walk away,” Amber writes. Visit her post for another story of perseverance.
::
Speaking of Amber and perseverance, her husband, Aaron J Robinson just persevered through hundreds of hours of songwriting and studio time to produce his first album, Mysteries of the Kingdom. Aaron is a talented musician who also helps lead worship at my church. Check out his new Facebook page and listen for yourself!
::
Go THERE and then come back HERE again!


Join me for regular jaunts around The High Calling network, randomly visiting fellow bloggers, soaking up their words and ideas, and then coming back here to write about them from my perspective. This is what The High Calling network is all about, after all.

Our site is about casting a vision that is clear enough and inspiring enough that our readers can run with it on their own sites. We then spend the majority of our editorial time listening to them on their sites and helping them shine as writers. We believe in the power of the laity so much that we are relying on them and their audiences to help spread the vision that has been given to us. – Marcus Goodyear, senior editor, thehighcalling.org (from “The Challenge, Strategy, and Execution of Combining Web Properties” by Dan King on churchcrunch.com)

Each Thursday (or Friday if Blogger happens to be down for 20 hours!), consider going “There and Back Again” yourself. It’s simple.

1.) Choose another High Calling Blogger to visit. It can be someone you have “met” before, or do what I do, and work your way through the “Member Posts” section of thehighcalling.com to meet someone new.
2.) Visit his blog, digesting the message until it becomes something that you can write about.
3.) Go back to your blog and write about it, being sure to link to the post that gave you the idea so that your readers can visit, too.
4.) Add the button above to your blog so your readers know you are participating in “There and Back Again.”
5.) Go back to the Network blog and leave a comment so your new friend can feel the link love!
6.) Complete the journey by returning here, to Wide Open Spaces, and enter your link so that we all can benefit from the new High Calling connection you have made.