Recently, I ran a race in the San Angelo State Park with my sister. We were excited because it was a half-marathon trail race, and as former one-time marathoners, we were positive this would be an easy and fun race. During mile 12 I lost my balance and fell into a large patch of prickly pear cactus. As I fell head first into the prickly pear, I turned my body to the left so I wouldn’t land face first into the patch. As I stood up and attempted to brush off the dirt and blood I realized that hundreds of prickly pear thorns were stuck on the left side of my scalp, ear, and neck. I’ve fallen before during races and practice runs, and I always continue running, so I began running again knowing that I was near the end of the race. After running a couple of minutes, I began walking. The pain from the thorns radiated over my entire body. I tried removing thorns. I finally began crying, and then stopped crying, because I couldn’t breathe and cry at the same time. I heard a cowbell, and realized I was near the end of the race, so I started running again. When I reached the location of the cowbell, I realized I was simply at the second aid station. There were exhausted and confused runners refilling water bottles, and volunteers handing out energy gels and orange slices. As a volunteer handed me a wet wipe to clean my dust and blood covered hands and face, I tuned into the surrounding conversation. We were at mile 12.5 or perhaps mile 14…no one actually knew for sure, and the volunteers were telling participants that there were still 4 more miles to run, and the racing company had measured the course incorrectly.

As I began running again, a sense of hopelessness overwhelmed me. I could hear my heart pounding in my ears, the left side of my head throbbed, and it was beginning to warm up enough to be on the watch for rattlesnakes on the trail. I had not trained for 16 or 17 miles. I had trained for 13.1, and my 13.1 training had happened on the hard concrete of Denton roads and sidewalks, not rocky, hilly, prickly pear ranch land. The last four miles were the hardest miles I’ve ever run and walked. Hebrews 12:1 became my meditation, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,” and then I began thinking of this example of Jesus not only running a race, but also running this race with thorns piercing his scalp.

As I struggled through the last mile of the race, hope returned. My sister was waiting for me across the finish line and as I crossed the finish line, received my medal, and apologies from one of the race organizers, I turned to my sister and asked her to help me remove the thorns. When she realized my predicament, she immediately, carefully, and compassionately, began the hour long process of taking the thorns out of my flesh. Paul writes to the Corinthians, “Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” God is with us all the time. God made us. God chooses us. God loves us, and when we are weak, we remember this race set before us with fear, but God is greater than fear, and with God we will finish this race despite the unknown miles, and across the finish line will be our sisters and brothers waiting to remove the pain of our thorns.

Other Posts You Might Like:

Food for Thought - Bob Bentley

The Beauty of Love - Nicole Kennell

Craving - Edy Tercero

Twelve Hundred Hearts, Twelve Hundred Voices Strong! - Jabbarri Jones

WE DID IT! - Bob Bentley



baby dedication

McKinney at Cardinal

101 Cardinal Drive
Denton, TX 76209



Sunday Worship Schedule
9:30 - Worship (English Service)
10:10 - Bible Class (Birth to 8th grade following the Kid's church time until the end of service)
11:00 - Worship (Spanish Service)

Wednesday Evening Schedule
6:30 - Celebrate Recovery

More Singing Oaks Websites

icon_bulletin View Worship Bulletin

icon_listen Listen to Sermons

icon_listenMember Login

icon_bulletin Resources