I was attracted to Bruce Matson’s book, The Race Before Us – A journey of Running and Faith, because I’ve been an avid runner for most of my life and my relationship with God is the most important aspect of my life. Matson writes about both of these topics – running and the Christian faith – from the perspective of someone who is experiencing a mid-life crisis.
As he nears the age of 50, Matson finds himself in a serious health situation – high blood pressure and high cholesterol with diabetes and excess bodyweight – and concerned that he may not be able to fully experience life in the next decade, the prime of his life. Matson’s doctor told him that he was a ‘walking time bomb,’ so he made a decision to use the physical activity of running as a means to improve his health.
Matson also recognized that he wasn’t all that comfortable with his spirituality and what the meaning of life was. So he made a decision to revisit his faith and what spiritual health and a relationship with God might look like. He uses the metaphor that his life is like a race – like the ‘race of life’ that we all can find ourself in.
I enjoyed reading all the details of how Matson trained for his races. With quite a bit of explanation, he shares how he selected races to compete in and about his training methods to prepare for those races. And he also gives you insight into his significant friendships, especially those people who he trained with. I also enjoyed reading his accounts of his race experiences. He competed in several 10K’s, half marathons and full marathons. I can relate to aspects of what he wrote about in his New York City Marathon experience as that race was one of my last competitive running experiences. (In 1984 I ran that marathon in mid 80s temperatures and was one of hundreds of runners who fell victim to dehydration, cramps and heat-related issues.)
Matson also shares how he explored the Christian faith. He listened to podcasts on this topic while on his long training runs. He read books by prominent authors – both those who defend the Christian faith and those who oppose it. In a way that an attorney can, he analyzed the pros and cons of both viewpoints. He shares his rationale for choosing the way to God and meaning of life as outlined in the Holy Bible. He determines that – for himself – the best way to spiritual health is through the Cross of Christ.
I really enjoyed Matson’s informal style of writing and the detailed nature of his accounts – both his exploration of spiritual matters and his training and racing.
If you read The Race Before Us, you’ll indeed be taken on a journey of running and faith. If you’re a runner at heart and have a desire to explore the meaning of life, you’ll especially enjoy it.
Let us all ‘run with perseverance, the race that is set before us,’ (Hebrews 12:1) for the glory of God!