“Finishing the Course,” New Era, Feb. 2013, 46
In high school I ran cross-country and distance track. I was never very good, but I enjoyed running and worked hard. One day my team was scheduled for a cross-country meet that took place on a particularly hilly course. I’d been practicing hard, so as we lined up in our starting positions, I said a silent prayer to Heavenly Father to ask if He would bless me with success in accordance to my hard work.
The gunshot sounded, and we were off. The first mile was flat and I was feeling pretty well, so I began to run even faster. Surely this was going to be my finest race! Then came the first hill. I ran up as fast as I could and came tearing down the other side. But then there was another hill. This one was even steeper, and I quickly lost my momentum. I started feeling like I might fall down the other side. I held it together, but when I came around the next corner, I saw multiple hills to come. Before long I became very tired. By mile two, other runners continually passed me. I became frustrated with myself for taking the first part of the race so fast, using all the energy that I needed now. I wanted to give up and walk off the course.
I decided to say another silent prayer. I asked my Father in Heaven to bless me with the ability to finish the race. Then the thought came, “Sometimes life gets hard, and it’s all you can do to keep running, but in the end you’ll be glad you didn’t give up and walk.” I was able to finish the race, and while I didn’t run the amazing race I’d wanted to, I gained something that has helped me ever since—a sense for how it may feel to endure to the end.
Paul said to Timothy, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). I learned that at the end of my life I want to say, as Paul did, that I fought the good fight, that I finished my course, and that I kept the faith. I now know that things don’t always work out perfectly, but even in something as small as a high school cross-country meet, the gospel of Jesus Christ helps give us the strength to endure to the end.