With all your Heart!


” Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and your neighbor as yourself .”   Matthew 22:37-39

On her way to work, my daughter heard a promo on the radio about the “Houston HP Marathon”. She decided to run the half marathon and immediately found a web site that gave detailed instructions on how to prepare. She then faithfully prepared herself for a challenge like she had never attempted. Even though she played on the University tennis team she had a long way to go to be in condition to “survive” the 13+ mile run.

There were 14,000 people who ran the marathon, half marathon or the 5K. Runners had a computer chip attached to their foot in order to track their time, and in order for others who may choose to track their progress from home computers (my idea of support from the comfort of the easy chair!) Several from our family went to the course and participated as support. We saw an example of what it means to have the ” heart of a runner.”

I asked her what kept her going during the actual run.

1. The challenge, the discipline and the excitement of accomplishment
2. The support of family and friends
3. The cheering crowds
4. The others who were running
5. The exhilaration of completing something that most will never try

What were the most discouraging?

1. Breaking from the crush of the crowd of other runners
2. Knowing that the finish was near but still had a “ways to go”
3. Running when the cheering was gone and few other runners were near

We have a high calling. It is to love with all of our heart/soul/mind and others! Paul frequently compares this to a runner in a grand competition .

If we become weary in active love, it could be we need:

  1. A better training plan – what are we doing to prepare our heart to love others? Find books of spiritual encouragement. Seek godly counsel that will help in finding barricades to joy that need to be overcome.
  2. An encouragement team – we can find many sources for discouragement, but finding positive encouragement may take effort. We all need those who want the best for us, this means even loving us to tell us troubling truth–but with love and constructive support. The role of the First Place group is to cheer each other to success.
  3. To know that the race is long and there will be times of feeling like we are alone, out of energy and falling short of the finish line. The second wind is truly the breath of God, the Holy Spirit who will empower us when we think we cannot go further. The lessons from the journey of others who have been this ‘route’ before and overcame obstacles and found success shows that we can too!

Finally, in the race it is not just about us. Each runner wants to see every person who trained finish. It is a sad thing for the marathon runners to see those injured at the First Aid stations or who fall by the way. Every person in a First Place group needs a victory! It is a shared joy!

The First Place full marathon runner completed the 26.2 miles in 2:18:5 hours.1

The last person to finish had an official time of 6:5:38 BUT – to run and finish is to win!

Some ran their first race as a retired adult. Others were preteens. In the race of faith whenever we start to run with faith, hope and love, we will end our life a ‘Winner’.

It is what we were called to do – run with all our heart.

It is good for you , it is good for the others , it is good for the Kingdom.

Dr. Bill Heston
University Chaplain,
Howard Payne University
Brownwood, Texas

Dr. William Heston was minister of pastoral care at Houston’s First Baptist Church; clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, and a marriage therapist licensed by the state of Texas. He has also led seminars at First Place Conferences.