I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free (Psalm 119:32 NIV).

Ultra marathons are grueling races. They stretch anywhere from 35 to 100 miles, cover all manner of terrain, and can take 24 hours to complete. It would be easy for a runner to lose his way, his motivation or his judgment somewhere along the arduous course. Because of this, they practice what is called "companion running." This is where the runner of the race — the main runner — chooses companions to run specific segments — usually five miles — of his race with him. Companion runners keep him on track, because they're trained and fresh and possess clear judgment with which to guide the Main Runner.

"Companion" comes from Latin and it means "somebody who shares bread." We usually break bread with people we trust. "Companion" also means "someone who accompanies or shares time with another." In astronomy, the companion star is the fainter of two that make up a double star — similar in concept to the companion runner.

I look at life like an ultra marathon. We each have our own rigorous race, our own hurdles that God has set before us and problems the evil one puts in our path. I am running my race and you are running yours. Actually, I'm married, and I consider myself to be running a three-legged race. But the important thing is our courses run parallel to one another, and at some points we all need the help of someone who is honest and reliable and willing to put our needs first as they come up along side us to guide us in our weak and weary state.

The question I asked myself today was: What kind of Companion Runner am I?

Do I even have time to participate in someone else's race or have I filled my own with too many obstacles? Am I always a Main Runner and never the Companion?

Am I trained for the task? What provisions do I have to offer?

Can I discern what my runner needs? Maybe my only purpose is to listen to her cry that her feet feel like hamburger, or her knees feel like mush. Maybe my purpose is to give her counsel.

And that leads me to a critical question:

God created us to support one another.
Have I learned enough about the mind of God so I can give my Main Runner solid counsel? I want my presence to be a benefit to her, not a liability. And, I don't want to be a liability to myself either!

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. "A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough." I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be (Galatians 5:7-10 NIV).

I do not want to be "the one" in that last verse who is throwing anyone into confusion, so I had better have God's word tucked into my heart and head, and have it ready to use when needed and I had better carry the Bible in my race sack for quick reference. I don't want my runner or me to pay the penalty for suggesting the cliff she is nearing isn't treacherous or that she should skip the next water station to shave 30 seconds off her time.

God created us in community to fellowship with one another and to support one another while on our earthly course and to glorify Him in all we do. And He, in turn, provided the Ultimate companion runner for each of us through Jesus Christ. When I am in close fellowship with Him, I am better equipped to serve in whatever capacity I am called to on any particular day.