Last September a couple of us walked the Taff Trail from Brecon to Cardiff. All of us knew the importance taking on fluids and keeping the blood sugar levels up with a regular intake of calories during the walk and only one person managed to get it completely wrong.
The second day of the walk began with a hearty breakfast at Merthyr, we then set off towards Pontypridd stopping mid morning at Aberfan for coffee and cake. When we reached Pontypridd for our planned lunch break, I really didn’t have much of an appetite so I forced down some of the energy bars and energy drink that I had been taking as we walked.
By the time we completed the walk in Cardiff Bay it had been a long time since I had eaten anything substantial and was feeling weak. Whilst waiting for my lift home in a bus shelter, I began to feel light headed and nauseous , I remember thinking that I needed something to boost my blood sugar and taking a bite from yet another energy bar when I became aware that I was being held up by a frightened looking Mike telling me that I was ok. He later explained that I had passed out completely. Fortunately as I was in the shelter, sort of wedged in the corner and thanks to Mike who saw it unfold, I didn’t hit the ground.
Looking back, I realise how unwise it was to pass up on something to eat even when I didn’t feel like it. This isn’t something that’s complicated, if you’re expending energy, you have to refuel, it’s that simple. Even elite athletes are careful to eat properly beforehand and take on fluids during a race.
One of the most common metaphors to be used in the New Testament is that of an athlete running a race, Acts 20:24, 1 Corinthians 9:24-26, Galatians 2:2, 5:7, Philippians 2:16, 2 Timothy 4:7, Hebrews 12:1. It’s a picture that would have been as familiar to Christians in the first century as it is to us. We are called to approach the Christian life with all the single-mindedness of athletes determined to finish the race in front of them.
I would suggest that we also need to refuel and this week is perhaps a good opportunity with so many of the regular activities suspended for the half-term break. The race isn’t finished but it could be time to get into the word, to spend some time with God and with those that we love. After all, who would be silly enough to miss the chance to refuel?
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)