April 15, 2018
Our Personal Best
For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. – 2 Corinthians 8:12
How fast can you run? If you are my age, then probably not very fast. Even as a young man, though I was blessed with good health, I never was a fast runner. The expression “slug slow” comes to mind. I did not even do well at disorganized picnic races (you know, the kind where you run to the designated tree and back). Consequently, I never thought in terms of winning races.
Although I would probably not do any better at marathons than I would at sprints, there is a concept about long races that I like. At marathons, there may be thousands of entrants. Ordinary people are not really competing for first place; that is for a handful of professionals, possibly from out-of-state or even out of the country. The primary thought of ordinary runners is finishing. They would be disappointed to drop out part way through the race. Beyond that, a good racer is always looking to finish with a new “personal best.” In other words, he is not really competing with the other people. He knows that some will be faster, some slower. He is competing with himself. He wants to be all that he can be. He wants to show improvement over his previous accomplishments. That, I believe, is a worthy goal in all aspects of life, not just marathons.
For the newly graduated and newly married of this season, but also at every stage of life, we need to remember that life is not about competing with the other person. It is not about “keeping up with the Joneses.” Some will go on to greater riches, success, or fame than us. Good for them! Our concern is not about their achievements; rather, we just want to be sure that in whatever path the Lord leads us, we are being all that we can be. In his poem “Be the Best of Whatever You Are,” Douglas Malloch put it this way:
If you can’t be a highway then just be a trail,
If you can’t be the sun be a star;
It isn’t by size that you win or you fail—
Be the best of whatever you are!