During my freshman year I entered the mile run in a field of about twenty men. I was in good shape and finished second to an outstanding senior who rarely lost. He graduated that year and left the vacancy to me. Unfortunately, I discovered girls in my sophomore year and I let myself get a little soft. I had no idea that my body was going to play dead on that day of the race. I walked onto the track full of expectancy and determination. With the sound of the gun I tore off around the first turn leaving the pack far behind. I felt marvelous. But by the second turn my side was splitting and the pack was closing in. By the time I completed the first lap, I was sucking air frantically and my chest was heaving like a great gray whale. Runners I had beaten the year before were passing me on every side and I had only one desire—Get your bod off this track before your lungs explode. I collapsed on the infield grass in a sweating heap of shame and failure. I looked up just in time to see my girlfriend leave the stadium with her head down. What a tough moment for a once-proud sophomore!
Fortunately, I learned a valuable lesson that day on the track. It became clear to me that great beginnings are not as important as the way one finishes. We have all seen men and women quickly dazzle the world and then fade in dishonor and ruin. Most of life, you see, is a marathon and not a sprint. It just goes on and on, and the pressure to give up seems to increase with the passage of time.
That is certainly true in the Christian life. It is what the apostle Paul referred to when he said, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7). By these words, Paul was expressing satisfaction at having crossed the finish line without yielding to the pressure to cave in.
Alas, married life is a marathon, too. It is not enough to make a great start toward long-term marriage. You will need the determination to keep plugging, even when every fiber in your body longs for the infield. Only then will you make it to the end. But hang in there. Shirley and I will be waiting for you at the finish line.
From Dr. Dobson's book, Love for a Lifetime