“What’s Love Got to Do with It” asked Tina Turner in her #1 pop hit in 1984. I can tell you it’s got everything to do with it! Last Christmas my daughter Laura asked who in the family wanted to run a marathon with her. No one wanted to run a marathon with her! So she asked who’d run a half marathon. Three years earlier her and I were going to run a half marathon in Minneapolis where she lived at the time, but I hurt my knee snow skiing with the sons-in-law. I had to have surgery and we never got back to it until this past Christmas.
Oh, how I suffered getting into shape! Once when I ran in the afternoon, some middle school boys had gotten off the bus coming home from school. I was breathing so hard they made fun of my labored breathing! I’d have spanked them but I didn’t have the breath to catch them. So I started running after dark.
Laura gave me a running program and encouraged me to follow it. She promised if I would do what it said, I’d be able to run the half marathon. Then she gave a personal testimony how it worked for her. I scheduled it out and put the calendar on the refrigerator to hold me accountable. She was right. It worked.
While we were running the half marathon, I ran fairly comfortably. But at the ten mile mark it all changed. After that I had two goals: finish alive and run every step. Once she said that the red flag ahead was the finish line. She challenged me to pick up the pace. I did, only to discover it was the 12-mile marker! Finally, I saw with my own eyes “Finish Line” and we finished strong together.
My love for Laura is what gave me the strength to persevere through the several weeks of training. I did not want to disappoint her. My love for Laura is what made me put one foot in front of the other after mile ten. She was strong the whole race and I was holding her back. I just couldn’t stand to have her walk because of me. At one point I encouraged her to go on ahead. But finishing with me was more important to her than an improved time.
It was joyous to finish together, and to give her a big hug after our accomplishment. The joy was a mixture of having endured the race, not running anymore, and doing it with Laura.
Sometimes we dwell on the hardships of life. Sometimes wanting the ache to stop is all we can think about. But love is strong enough to persevere. Love made Jesus stay on the cross. Love causes the Holy Spirit to not give up on us and our frequent failures. When God wanted us to understand how much He loves us, He used the picture of a groom entering into a covenant marriage with His bride. In other words, God wasn’t just committed to love us when it was pleasurable or easy. He would keep on loving us even when it made Him suffer and cry.
I told Laura I would not have done this but for my love for her. I love Laura. You see the explanation for why I ran a half marathon is because of my love for a person.
That’s not a bad lesson for a preacher to learn.