For years, I envied people who called themselves runners. I liked the idea of being a runner, but "knew" that would never be me. I was not a runner.
But then, back in 2010, I decided to try again. In a different way than I had tried before. I even blogged about my journey as a runner back then. And I became a runner.
Right now, it is a balmy 16 degrees out...up from the 4 degree reading on the thermometer when we woke up...and today, I am only running on the eliptical in my basement. However, I read a scripture today that reminded me once again how much I have learned about life from running.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
As I read these familiar words, I was reminded of several truths that encouraged me.
- Running is hard. Living as a follower of Jesus is hard too. Some days, in both cases, it is hard to get started. Some days, it is hard to remember why I am doing this. Some days, it feels like I am wasting my time. I get frustrated and weary and tired of it being hard because I like easy stuff better. Hard is...well, HARD and I don't particularly like hard.
- BUT, I can do hard things. I've done hard things before. I will do hard things again. I can do hard things with my body because God created a miraculous organism in me that thrives on good food, the right amount of rest and vigourous exercise. My body is a miracle. And I can do hard things in my walk with the Lord because I have the mind of Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit, the living Word and the community of believers to cheer me on. In Him, I am a new creation and a living, breathing miracle- body, mind and spirit.
- Running is a process. And running "the race set before us" is a process as well. It takes consistency, training, practice, and perseverance. It doesn't happen overnight and sometimes, I have to start over and begin again. In fact, when it warms up, I will have to start the running process over again. The definition of perseverance is "steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty and delay in achieving success." We persevere....we keep trying...even when we don't see results because we trust that this process is valuable.
- The process is valuable and our hard work is worth it! As I mentioned in my previous blog post about running, it took me a LONG time to get to the point where I actually enjoyed running....a little. But now I know that the process- the training, the consistency, the sticking with it- all pays off. I feel better and stronger when I take the time to care for my body in this way. The time I invest in the process yields results every single time. It is just the way it works, as a runner and as a follower of Jesus. We are in charge of participating in the process, God is in charge of the results. We show up and do the work and leave the rest to Him.
I did finally run a 5K race a couple of years after I started running. I didn't break any records, but I finished in a respectable amount of time and I loved the process of participating side by side with the other runners and being encouraged across the finish line by the cheering spectators. It is that scene that I picture when I read the verse above. The accomplishment that morning may have seemed like it happened in a little over 30 minutes. In reality, it took much, much longer. It involved me getting over the idea that I would never be a runner. It required me listening to people who knew more about learning to run than I did and following their advice. It required me spending many months alternating between walking and running, before I could finally run the whole way. It took me putting on my very supportive sports bra and good running shoes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday whether I felt like it or not. But ultimately, the process and perseverance paid off.
I know the same things to be true in my walk with the Lord. While He works the miracles of transformation in my life, I have to show up and do my part. I have to spend time in His word and I have to spend time on my knees (metaphorically speaking....my dog freaks out and bothers me when I actually get on my knees, so I mostly pray sitting in a chair.) I have to be vulnerable and share my journey with other believers and hear God's voice through theirs. I have to practice gratitude purposefully and intentionally every day. This is the process that God uses to bring results. And He has set this race before me....He alone knows the course...so I have to show up every day to find out where we are going.
Today, I am grateful for this race set before me and for my "running" buddies with whom I am running this race. Love you, ladies!