BANG . . . AND THEY'RE OFF!! Leaping from the starting blocks, the runners begin the race with lots of energy expended freely and willingly! There's loud applause and encouraging cheers from coaches and friends. You're running well the race! The training and all the disciplined preparation now begins to pay off. There's a joy and an exhileration you've not known before. The rush of running pushes you along almost above the air, and you think of how much you love this race. You are aimed clearly at the finish line which you can almost taste! Life is good!
"Remember to stay in your lane. Keep within the lines and focus straight ahead, ready for the next hurdle. Pace yourself. Don't get distracted. Expect fatigue and maybe even exhaustion. You've been equipped and prepared for every obstacle. Don't even think of giving up! It is not an option. You can do it! You have it within you. It will be worth all the effort!"
The laps mount up and the race toughens. Thrill turns to toil. Some turn aside not to compete again. Others perhaps unprepared suffer injuries and become disqualified. The path appears more difficult, turning into an uphill climb, and the winds now resist all runners. The cheers and excitement seem distant, and those emotions which had propelled the runners forward are now a force to be ignored. Some have slowed considerably and appear only to be going through the motions. Still remembering the trainer, "The Greater the Trial, the Greater the Triumph," the runner continues.
Could it be that the more that distractions and discouraging forces present themselves, the more satisfying the finish? Why is it easy at the beginning and so fatiguing during the final laps? How is the pursuit of excellence always so exhausting? Why is staying in the game so difficult?
The real test of that which lies within is truly measured only by the most gruesome conflict. Excellence is proven when it triumphs over the most abstinent foe. Confidence is produced when the training has yielded its fruit of victory. Diligence and consistency do pay off. Staying in your lane and finishing the task is the goal. Each man's purpose and deep satisfaction is found only in playing within the guidelines of the game. The finish line is the motivation.