Crossing the Finish Line
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“Crossing the Finish Line,” Ensign, Oct. 1997, 69

Crossing the Finish Line

I love to exercise. I run four or five miles six days a week. Some Saturdays I treat myself to six or seven miles, time permitting.

I began 15 years ago when, as a college freshman, I felt that I should be developing my body as well as my mind. When I began to understand that the mind and body function together as an eternal unit, exercising regularly and rigorously grew from a dislike to a dedication and finally to a love.

I love to put on my sweats, lace up my running shoes, and head down the street, breathing in great drafts of air and marveling at the wonders of nature and the awesome beauty of the physical body—the wondrous working of the muscles and sinews, the circulatory and skeletal systems, the senses. While running I often picture in my mind the integrity of my musculature as I feel my muscles expand and contract. I visualize my heart pumping blood, and each blood cell transporting oxygen to each muscle cell.

Physical exercise frees my mind to explore gospel truths. One impressive lesson, for example, came while I was running in a marathon. At the 17th mile every muscle ached from lack of sufficient oxygen. My rib cage was sore from heavy breathing, and my feet were burning. I wanted to collapse. Yet a small voice inside urged me not to give up but finish the race. And so I kept a steady pace.

At the 25th mile, with one mile and 385 yards left, I passed a runner who had run a much faster, stronger race but had fallen by the side of the street. He made no effort to get up as I passed him and crossed the finish line.

That image has stayed with me ever since. Whenever I become weary—too tired to do my visiting teaching, read the scriptures, or pray—I see the fallen runner. That mental picture gives me the power to persevere, to endure until I cross that great, eternal finish line.

Wrote the Apostle Paul: “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. …

“I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:

“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.” (1 Cor. 9: 24, 26–27.)

As I have exercised my physical body, I have felt a peace and strength and have known the sweet blessings that come when we pay the price, when we freely lengthen our stride.—Virginia R. Scott, Murray, Utah

Illustrated by Beth Maryon Whittaker