I am running a 5k tomorrow. Not a big deal for a lot of people. It's a big deal for me. I don't like to run. Well, that's not true... I do like to run but only when it's sprinting really fast and really short distances. Certainly not jogging 3 miles. That's painful, boring, and hard.
Yet, I am running. I decided to run the 5k primarily because it is raising awareness and funding for orphans in Guatemala. Soon after making the decision, some motivating questions entered my head. "I wonder how quick I can get into shape and really be competitive? I wonder how fast I could run this if I work hard?". The thrill and challenge of competition and lofty goals are hard to resist.
Pretty quickly those lofty goals were met with misery. I was running way too fast the first mile and could barely breathe to gut my way through to the next. I felt terrible, out of shape and discouraged. I needed to run slower but I didn't want to because I wanted the work out to be over as fast as possible. I wasn't enjoying the running because I was trying to set a pace that my body was not ready to run.
I've always loved the comparison Scripture uses of running a race to the Christian journey in following after Christ. Probably because I relate to it. I was a sprinter in high school and college. I understand running with endurance and "in such a way to win the prize" as I visualize rounding the curve to the straight away in the 400m. hurdles. But somewhere in the midst of making myself run long distances the last couple months, God has brought me fresh insight.
It honestly makes me laugh when I think of how silly I must be to Him when I compare His Word of running with endurance to sprinting the straightaway of the 400m. hurdles. Oh sure, there's endurance required in the 400 hurdles... all of the 60+seconds needed to run it : ) Although, I wouldn't doubt our lives here will look near close to that 60+seconds when we get to eternity. Still, we don't have that eternity understanding yet and our life on earth can seem dauntingly longer than even a 5k race... a marathon if you will.
The Lord has quietly revealed to me how the human desire tries to live the way I like to run. Fast and short. But the life of following Christ is rarely a sprint. If we are to run in such a way to win the prize with endurance, we must let Him set the pace. If we get ahead of Him, we make ourselves miserable. We gut it out in our own strength barely able to breathe.
God desires us to settle into the pace He designed for each of us to run. If we are to run with endurance, we need to go at a pace where we are able to breathe in His life giving Spirit that enables us to have the strength to keep going. We need to throw off everything that entangles us, not looking to the right or the left to see what pace anyone else is running but fix our eyes on Jesus ALONE, the author and perfecter of faith.
Life is hard, difficult and painful. Sometimes it becomes even more so because we are pushing ahead not allowing God to direct our steps and set our pace. Life is also joyful, beautiful, full of hope and contentment when we rest in the timing and path He's set before us....even at it's hardest.
The Lord has changed my lofty goals. My aim now looks more like surrender, submission, humility and dependance. Praying to enjoy my running more(literally and figuratively) as I look to my sweet Jesus' face.... even in the hardest parts of the race.
How about you friend, are you enjoying your run?
"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
ps. So funny but one day as I was training, an oldie but goodie came through my headphones right as God was showing me some of these insights. Here's the lyrics to SCC's "The Human Race"...gotta love how God works : )
In a world of winners and losers,
Some are used, some are the users;
It’s a push and shove race
Of trying to get ahead.
In the dust of all the confusion
We make a choice, Truth or illusion;
Will we listen to lies,
Or hear what the Father says.
We are running in a human race,
Where nobody wants to settle for second place;
But we’ve got to run it at a different pace,
‘Cause the first will be last and the last will be first
At the end of the human race.
In a day when values are changing,
What kind of ground are we really gaining;
Who are we trying to serve by going the extra mile.
We can’t trade the Truth for the fashion;
We’ve got to live a life of compassion,
And those we touch are the prize
That waits at the finish line.
We are running in the human race;
We must run it at a different pace,
‘Cause we’ll all meet the Father face to face
At the finish line of the human race. (2x)