Relentless Forward Motion

This week’s guest blog is written by Pastor Draa Mackey, the senior pastor at Bayshore Baptist Church in Lincolnville, Maine, since 2018. Draa and his wife, Joanna, have been married for almost 4 years and have a 3-year-old son, Kirk.
I had never experienced more pain in my life. Every muscle fiber in my legs screamed for respite. My arms, numbed by their endless back-and-forth, back-and-forth motion, had given up complaining and resigned themselves to their fate.
So tired. So sore. When will this be over? I think to myself.
I look down at my watch ... 94 miles in—that means I have about 6 miles to go. That’s less than two 5ks back-to-back. Okay. I can do this.
95 miles. To some, this number represents their daily commute. To others, it’s what they must travel to see their grandparents, children, or lifelong friends. But this number is special to me in a different way. It’s the distance my body could go before my spirit broke.
I’m an ultrarunner. Writing that down feels as though I’m committing fraud or something. No, I haven’t set any world, national, or state records—excluding a handful of Fastest Known Times (FKTs) on local trails—and I certainly am far from the front of the pack in most races. But, nonetheless, the title is mine. Ultrarunner. In short, this title is achieved by running races longer than marathon distance (26.2 miles). You don’t need to be the fittest, fastest, or strongest. All you must do is persevere. Get the miles done. As a seasoned ultrarunner and friend told me once, “It’s all about relentless forward motion.”
Relentless forward motion. Those were some of the only words pounding in my brain during the last five miles of my first one-hundred-mile footrace. I had completed a marathon, two 50ks, and a 55-mile race; but, in the ultrarunning community, one isn’t considered a TRUE ultrarunner unless he or she completes a hundred-miler. Then the ultra-ultrarunners pursue even loftier goals (a 135-mile race from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney or a 383-mile run in the Arctic, for example). But, for most within the community, the christening celebration occurs at the 100-miler finish line.
And, here I am, five miles from reaching a goal I’ve longed to achieve for months. And I’m broken. Empty. I feel like a shell of a man, plodding along the trails, wondering what in the world I’m accomplishing through this endeavor. Don’t get me wrong—quitting never even passed through my mind. It simply wasn’t an option on the table. My quandaries were the questions burning in each of our hearts since our youth: Why? Why am I here? What is my purpose? I had hoped I’d encounter some existential revelation through my endless footfalls on the pine needle strewn trail and cracked, gray asphalt; instead, the questions burned hotter and deeper within me.

Often the answers to your deepest longings and desires are only found in weathering the storm.

Why? Why am I here? What is my purpose? Cliches spoken with good intentions often taste the bitterest while in the throes of agony. Yet, I found myself clinging to a mantra: relentless forward motion. Even though at the time I couldn’t find it within me to answer my soul’s burning questions, the mantra reminded me of a truth beyond myself. Something that, if apprehended and accepted, will allow for hope in the worst circumstances known to humanity.
Often the answers to your deepest longings and desires are only found in weathering the storm. Persevering until the end. Realizing that the battle’s fray clouds answers. Answers that, immediately after the battle ceases and the dust settles, you discover were there all along, amid the fray, behind you, before you, and even, at times, fighting for you. When you seek for answers within the storm, don’t be surprised if you only find wind and waves.
I was within the storm at mile 95, but the sun was beginning to pierce through the clouds. Little by little, with each pained footfall, the relentless forward motion drove me closer to the light. Each stride brought with it increasing pain, but the progressively intensifying light shrouded me in joy.
Mile 96. Mile 97. 98. 99.
I could hear the whooping and hollering growing louder. The music blasted through the trees. Suddenly, I rounded a corner, came out of the woods, and there it was—The Finish Line.
A vigor returned to me. It began rejuvenating my muscles and focusing my mind. My body felt new. My spirit reborn. Relentless forward motion. I sprinted.
I’m not sure how quickly I covered the final one-hundred yards. It didn’t matter. What mattered was standing there at the finish, with my faithful crew, having achieved something once thought impossible. All because of a simple yet profound mantra: relentless forward motion.
I think the Christian life can often feel like a hundred-mile footrace. The mountain peaks and their accompanying vistas are often followed by valleys filled with mud, rocks, and roots. Sometimes the trail is easy to follow, other times you’re confronted with a five-way intersection, at midnight, with a dying headlamp, and a shoddy map. Maybe you’ve made it 95 miles and feel broken. Overwhelmed. Wondering, “Why? Why am I here? What is my purpose?”  Might I encourage you with the mantra that gave me the strength to carry on—to finish the race?
Relentless. Keep moving. True joy comes through the pain, not by avoiding it (1 Cor. 9:26–27; 2 Cor. 4:16–18; Heb. 12:1–3).

Forward. Keep progressing. Even if you must crawl on your hands and knees, any forward movement is progress (Phil. 3:12–16; Luke 18:1).

Motion. Don’t stop (Jas. 1:12; Is. 40:31). 
The clouds will break, revealing the sun that beamed its glory all along. The storm will cease, showing the One who held you firmly through it all. I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words in his letter to the churches in Galatia.

Galatians 6:9
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

A hundred miles may seem like an overwhelming distance, and I won’t deny that opinion.
But keep in mind: we serve a God who specializes in overwhelming the overwhelming.
One foot in front of the other—Relentless forward motion.
To encourage you in life's race, download our free app where you will find hundreds of digital resources to train and equip you in staying bold in your faith. Just click HERE, and look for the blue asterisk on the black background.
If you seek answers to questions you or others may have, we invite you to purchase Did Jesus Commit Suicide? And 27 Other Questions Teens Are Asking About the Bible (that adults want to know, too). To order, click HERE.

No Comments


Recent

Archive

Categories

Tags

1 Chronicles 16:8-12 1 Chronicles 22:14 1 Chronicles 29:11 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 1 Corinthians 15:33 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 1 John 2:15-17 1 John 4:10 1 Peter 3:15 1 Peter 4:12-13 1 Peter 5:10 1 Thessalonians 5:11 1 Timothy 6:10 1 Timothy 6:3-10 100 miles 1Peter 1:17-21 2 Chronicles 9:13-29 2 Corinthians 12:9-11 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 2 Timothy 1:7 2 Timothy 2:15 2 Timothy 3:12 2 Timothy 4:11 25% are staying 50k 55-mile race Abraham was very rich. Abuja Acts 11 Acts 13 and 15 Acts 17:11 Acts 9 Albert Einstein America waited too long. Barna poll Barnabas Be a Berean Be bold! Be bold Be happy! Best Evidence God Created Bible Bob Gillespie CRT Candace Nordine Carl Kerby Jr. Carl Kerby Choosing for Two Christian witness Chruch Colossians 2:14 Colossians 3:1 Columbo Tactic D. Mark Jacobs Jr. Dan Lietha Dave Glander David Tautofi DeBunked 15 DeBunked TV DeBunked Deuteronomy 6:6-7 Deuteronomy 6:6-9 Did Jesus Commit Suicide? Dr. Andrew Fabich Dr. Francis Schaeffer Dr. Jason Lisle Draa Mackey Easter Ecclesiastes 4:10 Ephesians 3:17-18 Ephesians 3:19-21 Exodus 33:14 Facing the Giants Frank Figueroa Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 6:9 Gen Z Genesis 13:1-2 Genesis 1:14-15 Genesis 3:10 Genesis 3 God created you God is rich in mercy God loves you God-shaped vacuum God's character God's joy God's plan God's pursuit God\'s character God\'s joy God\'s plan God\'s pursuit God\\\'s character God\\\'s joy God\\\'s plan God\\\'s pursuit God\\\\\\\'s character God\\\\\\\'s joy God\\\\\\\'s plan God\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s character God\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s plan God\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s character God\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s plan Gods Word is truth Gods Word Gods care Gods character Gods light Gods plan of redemption Gods plan Gospel message Groggy Hawaii Heaven Hebrews 10:19-22 Hebrews 12:1-3 Hebrews 13:5 Hebrews 13:8 Hell His glory Holly Varnum How can I fight and overcome fear? Hubble I Peter 3:15 IMPACT Is it okay for a Christian to be rich? Isaiah 26:3-4 Isaiah 40:28-31 Isaiah 40:29 Isaiah 40:31 Isaiah 41 Isaiah 43:1 Isaiah 45:9a Isaiah 64:8 James 1:12 James 1:2 January 2022 Jeremiah 29:11 Jesus chose to die. Jesus saw their faith Job 1:3 Job 2:8 John 10:17-18 John 11:25 John 14:6 John 15:13 John 16:33 John 3:16-17 John 3:16 John 8:32 John Mark John Ray Joni Eareckson Tada Joni and Friends Joseph A. Kennedy Joshua 1:9 Juan Valdes Justice Kaimuki Bulldogs Kaimuki High School King David King Solomon Know It! Live It! Share It! Lacey Reitz Liberty Institute Listen Loose the Lion Luke 18:1 MTD Malachi 3:3 Malachi 3:6 Mark 2:3-5 Mark 6:31 Martin Luther Master Potter Matthew 11:28-29 Matthew 11:28 Matthew 11:29 Matthew 19:16-24 Matthew 19:23-24 Matthew 6:19 Matthew 9:35 Mere Christianity Mic'd Up Mic\'d Up Mic\\\'d Up Mic\\\\\\\'d Up Money is their god. Moralistic Therapeutic Deism Mosaic NRB National Religious Broadcasters Nigeria Pastor Baba Philippians 3:12-16 Philippians 4:6-7 Please say Yes! Please say "Yes!" Please say \"Yes!\" Please say \\\"Yes!\\\" Potter Proverbs 12:26 Proverbs 14:12 Proverbs 19:21 Proverbs 3:5-6 Psalm 119:105 Psalm 119:11 Psalm 119:160 Psalm 122:1 Psalm 138:1-2 Psalm 139:14 Psalm 147:4 Psalm 16:11 Psalm 18:1-2 Psalm 19:1 Psalm 23:1 Psalm 23:2 Psalm 23:4 Psalm 27 Psalm 34:19 Psalm 40:8 Psalm 69:9a Psalm 8:3 Psalm 8:4 Psalm 92:1-4 Pursued Reasons for Hope in the Mosaic of Your Life Reasons for Hope* Reasons for Hope Respond to God's voice Respond to God\'s voice Respond to God\\\'s voice Respond to God\\\\\\\'s voice Resurrection RforH Romans 10:9-10 Romans 12:9-21 Romans 3:23 Romans 6:23 Romans 8:26 Sanctity of Life Schaftlein Report Scriptures Spurgeon Stay bold! Stay bold Supreme Court Surprised by Joy The Screwtape Letters There is no truth TikTok Trust His heart Trusting God Wade Wacker Wealthy Christians What is a Christian? What is my purpose? Who Made God? Why am I here? Why did Jesus have to die? Wooed Word of God abortion absolute truth achieving the impossible antidote to fear apologetics astronomy astrophysics biblical creationist biblical perspective biblical worldview blindfold boldness bold brokenness butterfly caged called to encourage certainty character clay coercion come alongside compromised confidence critical race theory critical thinking curriculum cut the head off the snake debate defend depression design of the eye desperate passion don't stop don\'t stop don\\\'t stop don\\\\\\\'t stop dont stop doubt encouragement entrusted by God to do good eternal life eternity without God examine the scriptures eye fair and impartial family circle fearfully and wonderfully made fear filled with joy and worship football coach former athiest freedom of choice galaxies give a defense give thanks glory in His holy name good news of Jesus Christ good news gratitude grog heroes of the faith hope human eye humble ourselves illness impact lives impact your teammates positively incomprehensible God isolation keep moving keep progressing largest church in the world light year speed like Christ loss of loved ones love of money love made for another world made in His image memorization without application memorizing Scripture multiple meanings mystical truth never compromised no complaints no hope no pain no gain no quitting not a fetus objective right and wrong one foot in front of the other opened doors opportunity to bring hope overwhelming distance part of a team paying it forward persecution persevere physics postgame prayer potsherd pottery potter power of the Word progress quadriplegic reach the younger generation reality exists reality reassurance red cardinal redemptive work of Christ refining refocus what church looks like relentless forward motion resolutions rest root of all evil sacrifice salvation see God move seek the Lord shine a light silversmith slavery social media son of encouragement speak life speak your truth spiritual apathy stagnant church stand boldly on the Word of God star-gazing starstruck stars stress statistics stress study for yourself suffering symbol of God's love and reassurance symbol of God\'s love and reassurance symbol of God\\\'s love and reassurance symbol of God\\\\\\\'s love and reassurance symbol of Gods love and reassurance teaching science telescope thankful the apple of his eye the finish line the lion will defend itself the seeing eye thriving in Christ trials tribulation troubles truth turn to God ultamarathon ultrarunner unborn child uncage the Lion uncover the truth universe use your gift visual reminders wethering the storm where two worlds collide windows to the soul worldview your circle matters youth zeal for worship