When Your Finish Line Moves

I cry for the city I love.  When we moved from the southern part of the US to Boston, over 25 years ago, I quickly felt I’d found the place I was meant to live.  There is no place I know with more charm, four season beauty, gutsiness, and sports enthusiasm. Truly, God has set my boundaries in pleasant places.  (Psalm 16:6)

Though tragedy struck here yesterday, inspiration abounds.  I’m inspired by those who ran the marathon, I’m inspired by those who supported the runners and I’m inspired by those who ran to help.

One particular younger friend of mine inspired me, who when her finish line was moved…just kept running. 150430_671996925760_1611996319_s

I’m reminded how we painstakingly prepare for the course of life we know.  We study, train, and try to equip ourselves to be successful.  However, as the scriptures state:

In his heart a man plans his course,

        but the Lord determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

    Many are the plans in a man’s heart,

        but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21


    This is what the Lord says–

        your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:

    “I am the Lord your God,

        who teaches you what is best for you,

        who directs you in the way you should go.  Isaiah 48:17


Rachel planned for this marathon all year long.  Yet, because of someone’s senseless act of terrorism she was not able to cross the finish line for which she was headed.

What do you do, when in the middle of your race, everything changes and you don’t know where you are going?

Well, Rachel kept on running.  Some of her friends ran beside her, and her husband, along with some friends marked out a new course….complete with a finish line and tape.

I realize how often life doesn’t go quite as we plan.  Circumstances of life change, things around us and things within us change.  As Solomon states:

    I have seen something else under the sun:

     The race is not to the swift

        or the battle to the strong,

    nor does food come to the wise

        or wealth to the brilliant

        or favor to the learned;

    but time and chance happen to them all.  Ecc. 9:11


However, for a disciple of Jesus we have something (someone) to hold on to and someone who has gone ahead and marked our course.  It may be a different course than what we have planned.  In fact, it likely will be.  There is a course marked out for you and me… those who have gone before will help cheer us through to the finish line.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

Thanks Rachel, for not being bummed out when your finish line changed.  I’m so grateful, as I  run the course marked out for me, that I’m surrounded by my spriritual family that cheers me on, and runs along beside me. It makes a difference.

I remember fondly, though with tears, standing by my Dad’s side as he crossed the final finish line.  Knowing he had lived his life wholeheartedly following his Lord, and loving His Word….when he breathed his last my sisters and I were able to exclaim, “You did it Dad.  You made it!!”


However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. Acts 20:24

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. [7] I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. [8] Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6-8






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  1. dustyearthmother

    Beautiful, Jeanie. My heart breaks for Boston and you are in my prayers.

  2. Charlene Glatkowski

    Thanks for this post, Jeanie. In the midst of tragedy, as terrible as it is, the faith, perseverance, and loving kindness of others really shines brightest.

  3. mistyblueginger

    Ah thanks Jeanie. Tears are coming that i have stifled and shoved down for much of the last 9 months. I came home yesterday thinking i was done with Boston and ready to move on. This morning i remember… much. We are a great city. We are resilient. We change course when the path moves. Thanks for the analogy. love you.

  4. Summer

    this is so moving, I love what you wrote. Feeling inspired by Rachel to “keep running”… Praying for all my dear friends from Boston.

  5. Fiona

    Thank you my sister, thank you <3

  6. secureinheart

    Jeanie, it is so touching how profound and beautiful lessons come out of tragedy. Love this! Beautifully said and just what I needed to hear,

  7. Kelly Amaya

    Thank you,Jeanie! and thank you Raquel too! Thank you sisters for letting God use you.

  8. Susan Shell

    Thank you Jeanie-for your wise, spiritual words that act as a true source of “encouragement and hope” for the life we WILL live with Christ. Boston has my heart and always will.

  9. Laura Ayasse

    Thanks Jeanie for finding the lesson in the tragedy and letting our daughter inspire you. I too was inspired by her determination!

  10. aladyinfranceJennie

    Hi Jeanie, I’m over in Paris with Carol, and Emma sent this to me. I was really struck by the spiritual analogy of the finish line being moved. Thank you for this perspective, and for something to meditate on.

  11. Barri Lusk

    Thanks Jeanie! You are all in our prayers!

  12. Katherine Pugh

    Jeanie, I have been thinking of you and your family and your Christian family in Boston. Beautiful story about Rachel. I am sure there are many others like that. Wish those would make the headlines. I don’t even watch the news anymore. Too much heartbreak. Thanks for your encouraging words.


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About Jeanie Shaw

After retiring from forty-five years in full-time ministry, Jeanie Shaw went back to school to earn her master’s and doctorate in spiritual formation and discipleship. She also serves as a certified Christian life coach who loves helping people discover the joy, peace, and purpose that come from finding and following God’s plan for their lives. She has taught classes and workshops all over the world and has written numerous books. She has four grown children, eight grandchildren, and a golden retriever who thinks he is human. When she is not reading, writing, coaching, teaching, or enjoying her family she might be found walking along rivers, learning new lessons about life.

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