Ahimaaz could hardly contain his excitement. “Let me run to the king with the good news,” he begged his commander.

But the experienced warrior knew the king. David would take no delight in this victory. So the commander sent another, less enthusiastic runner to the king with the news that, while he had won the war, his son, the leader of the rebellion, was dead.

Even after the other messenger disappeared over the hilltop, Ahimaaz continued to pester the commander for a chance to bring news to the king.

“Why do you want to run?” the older man asked. “There will be no reward today.”

“I don’t care, I just want to run,” came the reply.

Relenting, the commander finally said “Run!” Ahimaaz took off for the city, following a flatter route along the foothills. His adrenaline spurred him on so that he passed the other runner and arrived at the city first.

As he approached the king at the city gate, he burst out with the news of victory.

“But is my son safe?” asked the king anxiously.

Ahimaaz panicked when he realized what the king really cared about. “I saw a lot of confusion, but I’m not sure what happened,” he lied.

Why do we run?

I’ve often read this story in the life of King David recounted in 2 Sam. 18 and wondered why the young Ahimaaz wanted to run. Did he want a reward? Was he happy for the king and got caught in the desire to be the first to share the news? Maybe he had ADHD and just couldn’t sit still.

The Bible doesn’t say. But one thing seems certain: Ahimaaz begged for his big moment but wasn’t ready for it. He had the physical training but not the moral courage to complete his calling.

I believe it is our duty at Union College to give students the most complete preparation possible to follow their callings and become the leaders God created them to be. I see students arrive at college with the enthusiasm of Ahimaaz—ready to change the world. But they rarely know where to start or how to get there.

That’s why we intentionally choose people and build programs and communities across our campus to help students develop not just skill, wisdom and knowledge, but habits that will ensure lifelong spiritual, emotional and physical health as well.

Unlike 3,000 years ago, the races we find ourselves in are more likely to take the form of marathon meetings, hours spent staring at computer screens, or caring for others while they’re contagious. The metaphorical races we run too often chip away at our physical ability to live fulfilled, mission-minded lives. How does a modern administrator, nurse, programmer or mother “… run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1)?

It’s easy to put physical wellbeing on the back burner when the stress of life and the unhealthy demands of our responsibilities weigh us down. In the next few pages, I hope you enjoy stories about some of the ways we are building an environment where our students learn both to live healthfully and to understand that wellness is a critical component of both a good race, and preparation for the King who awaits at the end of our earthly running.

Please keep Union College in your prayers as we seek to help our students learn to run the race of life—and discover their reason to run.

Dr. Vinita Sauder is president of Union College.