In 1912, marathon runner Shizo Kanakuri was chosen to represent Japan in the Summer Olympics at Stockholm.
He began the race with the rest of the runners, but along the way was overcome with heat. He stopped at a garden party for some refreshment, but he stayed a little too long — more than an hour.
It was now, he thought, too late to get back in the race. He took a train to his hotel and caught a boat back home, too ashamed to tell anyone he was leaving.
For more than 50 years Shizo was listed as a missing person in Sweden, until a journalist finally found him; he had spent the last several decades living a quiet life in southern Japan.
In 1966 the Swedish Public Television network called him with an offer: Would you like to finish your run?
The 85 year old Kanakuri accepted, and he traveled to Stockholm to finish the race he had started so many years before. This time he crossed the finish line; his final time was 54 years, 8 months, 6 days, 8 hours, 32 minutes and 20.3 seconds.
Let’s remember that our reward is not for starting the race, it’s for finishing it. As Paul said in his farewell…
“I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me…” (Acts 20:24)
It’s never too late to get back in the race.
You can start running again today. The finish line is still where it used to be.
Jim Rohn said, “We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. Discipline weighs ounces — regret weighs tons.”
Rohn’s quote resonates because many of our regrets stem from lack of discipline: If only I had been more diligent. If only I had been more consistent. If only I had been more persistent. If only I had been more determined. And on and on.
Regret weighs tons, but it’s foolish to bear this burden of regret longer than necessary.
Know how to get out from under it?
It’s in the first half of Rohn’s equation: Take another tug at the lighter weight of discipline.
Ask yourself: What good thing … what necessary thing … must I start doing today — and every day — if I feel like it or not?
Whether it’s a walk around the block or more time in the Word or cancelling a golf game to spend the afternoon with your kids, the short-lived pang of making a decision that doesn’t come easily is nothing compared to the relief it brings from the dread of regret — in fact, these tough decisions result in immeasurable joy.
There’s a verse in Hebrews that refers to discipline. The writer is speaking here about the discipline (correction) that God sometimes works in us, but these words also apply to the discipline we have the power to exact on ourselves.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:15)
Marcus Aurelius said, “The most important things in life are the thoughts you to choose to think.”
If this is true, then the most important decision you’ll make today is what to think about.
You can think thoughts of faith or thoughts of doubt, thoughts of hope or thoughts of despair, thoughts of love or thoughts of hate. These thoughts will find their way into your words and your actions as the day wears on.
“Thoughts should be tested before they’re transmitted,” said William Arthur Ward. “If our thoughts taste unkind, critical or unfair, we should refuse to release them into the dangerous world of words.”
Every temptation begins with a thought. So does every act of goodness. That’s why Paul said…
Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. (Romans 12:2)
Today, let thoughts of faith, hope and love fill your mind.
Make a choice to believe the best about the future God has planned for you. That’s faith.
Make a choice to expect the best in each situation, because God is at work in the details. That’s hope.
Make a choice to give the best to those around you, because this is what he has called you to. That’s love.
Your life will become what your thoughts make it.
Be transformed, then, by the renewing of your mind.