“Building Up the Body: Worker-to-Worker” is a series of church worker wellness devotions. Visit lcms.org/wellness for more resources.

By Sue Matzke — mom, pastor’s wife, and Stephen’s Ministry Leader

Walk the race set before you

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” (Heb. 12:1–3)

One spring day, five years ago, I received this text:

“I watched parts of the Boston Marathon today. I want to get back to marathons. With my cardiac history, I think all I could manage is walking a half marathon. But a marathon is a marathon. Would you train with me?”

Since I was a lifelong bookworm with two left feet, I promptly replied, “I think you sent this to the wrong person. But good luck with your goal!”

My friend quickly texted back, “I meant to write you. You are a driven person. I think you would make the perfect training partner. The race I’m thinking of is at the end of October. That gives us half a year to train.”

I sent off a long list of past physical fitness failures and ended with well-wishes once again.

He again texted about my drive and asked me to consider it.

Well, I thought about it.

And I tried walking the next morning.

I walked 1.8 miles around my neighborhood and about died. I was so sore the next two days. I was ready to give my friend a final thanks-but-no-thanks text when my husband asked me if I had warmed up before I walked.

Nope. I had just rolled out of bed and walked. Hmmmm.

The next morning, I rolled out of bed, did some stretches, and walked the same path in slightly less time.

The next morning, I rolled out of bed, stretched, and made it two whole miles.

I texted my friend that night, “So how do I sign up for the October race? I’m in!”

It wasn’t easy training. Our town lacked a community fitness center so I had to train outdoors through rain and stifling Midwest humidity.

My husband and I installed location sharing apps on our phones because it also wasn’t the safest town.

I gave up nearly all TV viewing to have enough time to walk and homeschool our son.

But I gained so much!

I gained self-confidence and smaller clothing. I enjoyed training with my friend when our schedules matched and peaceful solo walks when he wasn’t available.

My prayer time exponentially increased, and endorphins really do lift moods.

I was in the midst of a struggle grieving my mom, who passed away several years before. Walks that started off with tears for her often ended with smiles.

I completed that first half marathon with my friend in October 2012. I have since completed five more and two 15Ks.

I am on my second set of “sneaker plates” that have Heb. 12:1 on them to remind me of the motivation for why I walk, why I train to keep my body healthy, why I do anything — for the glory of Jesus Christ, my Savior.

He keeps us from losing heart. He keeps our weary bodies fresh and alive to serve Him during our time on this earth.

Sue Matzke is a marathon walker, pastor’s wife, Stephen’s Ministry Leader, and board member for Ministry in Mission, an LCMS Recognized Service Organization. She lives with her husband and teenage son in Ohio, where they are members of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Chesterland.

“Building Up the Body: Worker-to-Worker” devotions and prayers will be released Monday mornings on the LCMS Facebook and Twitter pages. Church Worker Wellness devotions will also be archived online.

LCMS church workers and their families are invited to offer encouragement to other workers and families by submitting a 500-word devotion for the Synod’s worker-to-worker wellness devotion series. Email questions and submissions to workerwellness@lcms.org.