“You’re not running if you don’t sweat blood.”
Cross Country Coach Lawrence looked me in the eyes and spoke his mantra. “No blood, no effort.”
That was it. Try as I might, I never could reach his pinnacle of cross country success. The truth is, I wasn’t convinced that hematohidrosis was all that important. My fourteen year old body was a bit behind my sixteen year old chronological age. Appropriate sweat reactions and BO were new enough for me, let alone blood pouring from my adolescent apocrine glands.
Seven years later, another lesson in sweat glands awaited me at the Officer Basic orienteering course at Ft. Riley, Kansas. I was in the lead, with one control point remaining before the finish point. The course had taken a dip into a breeze-less dry creek bed. I had been pushing hard in 110 degree heat, running the course and shooting azimuths all over the place. I started seeing things that I knew weren’t real. And I stopped sweating. No sweating blood. No sweat. My first heat injury. By God’s grace and power, He pulled me out of that ravine and I finished the course. Third place.
I don’t know what made me think of these stories today, but it drove me to think about Gethsemane and One who sweated drops of blood, not for His own sin, but for mine. Real hematohidrosis, physical and spiritual. Luke, the physician records it in Chapter 22:43-44. I don’t suppose that Coach Lawrence was thinking about Jesus Christ back in 1974, but Our Redeemer ran the ultimate race, in our place, from the Garden to Golgotha. He took the ‘heat injury’ for me and rescued me from disaster in that ravine of eternal punishment.
Father, help me to “run with perseverance” the race marked out for me this week.