Many Legs, One Race to Run

Two fundraising events were held recently for the “Mike Marathon” fund for the Francises.  What follows is what Maria shared.  {6-2-18 update:  see Maria’s note at end of post.}

The apostles John and Paul wrote some words I find comforting at times like this.  Join me if you recognize the verses:
What would you think if I sang out of tune?  Would you stand up and walk out on me?  Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song, and I’ll try not to sing out of key …

I get by with a little help from my friends.


Thank you, one and all, for making room in your lives and your hearts to come together tonight. Thank you to our hosts and the amazing folks who worked to make this happen, and to John and Connie Warren for managing the big picture of fundraising.

I’m sure you know some part of the story …
how a bike ride on Memorial day in 2015 became a heart attack
and how oxygen deprivation became a brain injury;
how Mike was not expected to live, then not expected to walk or talk,
and how not one doctor expected Mike to be here tonight to testify to God’s goodness to save both his soul and his body;
how early on in Mike’s 15 weeks in 5 hospitals and 1 nursing home, we started to call our journey The Mike Marathon.

Mind you, we didn’t have any firsthand experience with running a marathon!  But it didn’t take a genius to figure out that we had a long road ahead, and we knew that the writer of the letter to the Hebrews said, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith …”

IMG_4443No doubt our friends had this verse in mind when they came up came up with this great tagline on the invitation, “Many legs, one race to run.”  God has given each of us a race, and he has decided the course, the terrain, the climate, and the shoes, and he calls on us to embrace our particular race, fix our eyes on Jesus, and run.  “Many legs, one race to run” also captures the sense of the earthly and heavenly witnesses who aid us on our journey.  When I told someone how beautiful I thought it was to think of one race and many legs, this friend said, “What?  Like a caterpillar?”

A caterpillar is a decidedly unpoetic image, you’ll agree, until we consider that caterpillars become butterflies.  Caterpillar-to-butterfly a pretty apt metaphor for what God is doing here.


Allow me, please, to return to the early days of a comatose Mike in the hospital.  I felt utterly helpless to do anything meaningful until it dawned on me that the one thing that I could do was to ask people to pray. Probably almost all of you have prayed for Mike, and we say THANK YOU.  Look at what your prayers have accomplished!

Someone asked me recently why it was any better to have lots of people praying, saying in so many words, “What is the benefit of sharing your troubles with so many people?  Why not just keep it among a few people? Does God not hear the prayers of a few just as much as the prayers of many?”

I’m so glad she asked this question, because I really want you to hear the answer.  It has to do with “Many legs, one race to run.”  My friend’s question led me to Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, where he tells them,

Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.  [We did too.] But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.  He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us.  On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.  You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

If I read it correctly, Paul is saying that the prayers of many lead to many people giving thanks.  If it’s OK for Paul to ask people far and near to pray, I guess it’s OK for me too!  Paul, like the Beatles, got by with a little help from his friends.


But there’s more:  when many people pray and God answers prayer, many people have a reason to give thanks for those answered prayers.  It means that more people are encouraged by seeing God work, both believers and unbelievers, and God gets more glory!  God doesn’t by with a little help from his friends, but he does get much-deserved glory!

I have seen it myself time and time again.  I send an email update, you and others all around the world pray, God hears and answers, I update with news of God’s provision, which leads to even more prayer, praise, and thanksgiving.  We are all blessed when we pray for each other!

That same passage in The Message reads, “You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation.”  It’s true!  You—with your prayers and the many other ways you help us—are part of God’s rescue operation.  You are moving our little caterpillar on its race, and God is making something beautiful, the same way that he makes butterflies from caterpillars.

We can never thank you enough.  Those two little words—THANK YOU—are totally insufficient.  The Gospel is being lived out in Technicolor for us, since we can never merit or repay all the good that you do for us.  We are full of gratitude to God that he has put you in our lives to run with us and to be part of this Mike Marathon.  May God richly bless you and encourage you to run the race he has set before you.


Postscript June 2, 2018

This week I found a sermon that Mike preached on this very text from 2 Corinthians.  Listen to it via the “Favorites” page on the Sermons tab or as an iTunes podcast.

Following my remarks at these events, the fundraising for our family’s longterm needs was presented (more info here).  With much gratitude and a good bit of astonishment, I’ve learned that about $400,000 toward the goal of $800,000 has been raised!

3 thoughts on “Many Legs, One Race to Run

  1. dalewayne

    I loved being a part of this event and getting to hear Mike speak. His faith and passion shine on, encouraging our hearts.

  2. Pingback: We get by with a little help from our friends! – Mike Marathon

  3. Maria, although we are on the fringes of your story (meaning we don’t attend Emanuel) we praise God for all He has done and is doing for Mike. And we pray for you, that God would give you physical and emotional strength for this long journey. We are blessed by knowing you and Mike.

    David and Betty Constance (Alliance Community)

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