Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Running with the Lord

I've never been one to be super athletic, sporty, or in shape. In fact, I am just about the opposite of all those things with the exception of enjoying a game of basketball here and there. But this past August I began a journey, a journey that I didn't really understand that I was on at the time. You see, last summer changed a lot of things for me. I had an internship that changed my heart forever and I encountered teenagers seeking to know Jesus in ways that convicted the core of who I am. I saw God at work every second of every day. I left my internship last summer on a spiritual high. I had grown to know God in ways that I never had before, and I wanted to know him even better. So, in August, I sat down with a friend and told her about my desire to seek God more and more and she told me that she learned so much about God through running. It sounded weird to be, but coincidentally one of my friends had recently started doing the couch to 5k app. I ended up joining her and another friend as we journeyed from not really being able to run for a minute to running a 5k. 

I didn't really plan to go much further with my running because in all honesty, I hated it. I hadn't experienced God through it and I was very confused as to what my friend was talking about. But a gut instinct within me told me to stick to it and I began the 5k to 10k app. Once I completed my first 10k, I was pumped beyond belief and I think that was the first time I really began to love running.

I always found those people who loved running to be crazy. But now I am one of those people. I am training to run a marathon in December and I couldn't be any more excited about it!

However, the important thing here has nothing to do with what I have accomplished. Really, I haven't accomplished anything--the Lord has been doing some crazy things in my heart. Tomorrow morning, I have to wake up at 5 for a 17 mile run and I already know that I will love every moment of it. Even if it's painful, I will love it--because of the way in which I see and experience God while running. And that's what I want to share with you today: the ways in which God is working through my heart during this journey.

Running has taught my that life itself is a marathon. Along the way we experience pain, pleasure, joy, disappointment, worry, excitement, and victories. But all of these things help us to achieve our end goal. 

Running has taught me to be alone with my thoughts. Whenever it's time to go out for a 3 hour run and it's you, your thoughts, God, and maybe some light music--you start thinking about how you think. And I think this is a very important lesson. You see, most of the time in my personal life my thinking tends to be about me. How can I make something easier for myself? How can I get people to like me? How can I accomplish the things that I want to accomplish? And there's a lot of I's and a lot of Me's. And during the first several months of running, my thought processes were about me. I would think about the pain I was in. I would think about myself and how bad I felt for myself. I would tell myself that I just couldn't do it and I would quit. But over time the Lord has taught me that our response to most things is based on our own created perception of them. When I began to realize that my poor performance in running was due to my negative outlook, I began to make some changes and how I thought. And now when I run I tell myself that I can do it. God has taught me to use my huge blocks of running time to think and pray for other people. And I have been blessed beyond words to see the fruit of what the Lord is doing when my thoughts and prayers with with him alone.

Running has also taught me endurance and discipline  And both of these things are major components to the Christian faith. In my walk with Jesus I have always leaned on the side of being complacent. And when I get tired of being complacent I pray my heart out and tell God that I am going to change and be different and get my act together, as if it is something I can do on my own. And then I get disappointed the next day when I am not a completely different person and I mess up and fail all over again and then I just give up. Running has taught me that this is a completely wrong way to look at. You can't go to bed one night, having no running experience, and wake up the next morning a marathon runner simply because of the sake of desire  It requires training. It requires practice. It is a process. You have to chose to put your shoes on and start running. It becomes a discipline and act of the will. Having the desire to run is good, but that alone does not bring about a runner--he has to start running slowly, but surely. And just because I have a desire to love God more and to love others more, doesn't mean that is going to automatically happen. I have to actually start committing to action my desires, even when it's hard. 

I love these things that the Lord has been teaching me and the many more things he will continue to teach me, but what I love most about running is that I meet God there. In the stillness of hearing my own breath time after time and my own two feet hitting the ground time after time--I feel an extreme comfort and rest in knowing that it is in Him and Him alone that I have breath and he is the One who guides every step. It's in running that I see He holds the entire fiber of my being together. And even when I doubt in my ability, even when I feel my calf tightening up, or my breath getting shorter, or a pain in my knee starting to occur, I know that He holds me his grace that covers all. Even in my personal life when I doubt in myself and screw up all along the way, I know that He holds me in his grace that covers all. 

The purpose of this blog post is not to encourage all of you to go out and train for a marathon. Instead, I hope this helped you see that there are things, things that we never expected, that the Lord longs to show us in the midst of things we never imagined. Never in a million years would I have imagined that I would be training for a marathon, but the spiritual truths the Lord has showed me are more amazing than anything I could have ever asked for. Take a risk. Do something you wouldn't normally do, and see how the Lord eagerly meets you there. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks sister! This is one of the things about you that I look up to the most. It reminds me of a quote from Brian McClaren:

    “Practice (or excercise) may not make perfect, but as we will see in more detail later, it does make currently impossible things possible. The one who tries to run a marathon can’t do it, but the one who trains eventually can. The one who tries to lift a heavy weight can’t do it, but the one who exercises his muscles on lighter weights eventually can. The one who dreams of playing Mozart on the violin can’t actually do it, but the one who practices—doing various finger exercises, melodic warm-ups, bowing drills, and so on—eventually can. And the one who wants to be patient, kind, forgiving, courageous, just, joyful, peaceful, and resilient can never do it; the harder she tries, the more frustrated she will become. But the one who trains and exercises herself becomes what she was incapable of being before. Yet this is not the whole picture. For Paul, personal exertion or exercise is necessary but not sufficient. Without exercise or practice we will not experience transformation, but neither can we produce it through exercise and practice alone. There is another empowerment, utterly indispensable, variously identified as the power of God, the grace of God, and the Holy Spirit.”