Last weekend I ran my first Spartan Race and it was an absolute blast! The course was 4.8 miles long with 23 obstacles and over 1200 feet of elevation change. The obstacles included a sand bag hoist, barbed wire crawl, Atlas stone carry and cargo net climb up a cliff just to name a few.
My favorite part wasn't the finish line or nailing all the challenges. It wasn't the cool medal or even my new favorite T-shirt. My favorite part was the 5 guys I ran the race with. We overcome obstacles as a team, we struggled through the mud as a team, we cheered each other on as a team and when someone couldn't complete a challenge we did burpees as a team. All of us.
See the race rules say that for every obstacle that isn't completed successfully a participant is assessed a 30 burpee penalty. Now for the uninitiated a burpee is pretty much the bane of the fitness world. Starting from a standing position you drop to the deck, do a pushup and then jump back up, feet off the floor and hands touching overhead. If that doesn't sound too bad you obviously haven't done one recently. Much less 30. Much less 100's of them.
Early on we decided that if any of us failed an obstacle we would split the burpees up amongst the team. It wasn't ringing the bell at the top of the rope climb or sticking the spear throw (which only 14% of racers do FYI) that defined my race. It was on my face, in the mud, counting off burpees with my brothers by my side.
"But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." - 1 Corinthians 12:24-27 NIV
The best life has to offer is found in the people we surround ourselves with. The best church has to offer us isn't the music or even the message. The best church has to offer is relationship, with Jesus and with each other.
"They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." - Acts 2:42-47 NIV
If we're running alone we may cross the finish line but I have to wonder are we really winning?