I don’t run. I just don’t enjoy it. At all. I’m sure that’s hard to believe for a former track runner, but I loved competing. I just hated running for practice.
You’ve seen all the running decals on the back of cars: 13.1, 26.2, 5K, 10K, and so on. You may even have one on the back of your vehicle.
I saw one that said 0.0 with the words I Don’t Run written underneath, and I smiled because it totally reflected my position.
Honestly, I just don’t think I ever mastered the art of breathing while running. And without that I’m just not able to maintain my endurance. And my legs feeling like they were on fire didn’t help much.
In the same way that running makes my body feel extremely uncomfortable, many situations in life can also make our hearts and souls feel just as horrible.
The encouragement and direction that I’ve gotten from revisiting the blog these last 2 weeks have brought me great spiritual strength. I’ve been continuously reminded to focus my attention on the Author of my life, in spite of all the confusion and distractions that daily cross my path (find Week 1 blog here), in order to endure my crosses (thorns, burdens, pain), so that I could achieve my ultimate prize of God’s joy (find Week 2 blog here).
As I was pondering what scripture to study for this week, I decided to go back to Hebrews 12 and realized that I missed a vital component which was critical for me to continue to overcome the challenges I was facing.
After noticing that Verse 2 started in the middle of a sentence, I went back to read Verse 1 to understand the complete statement, which provides today’s Steady State direction. The moment I read it, I knew I wanted to write about preparing for a spiritual marathon.
Last week I referred to our lives as chapters in a book. But this week, we are going to view our lives as a race. And we aren’t just running for the love of running, there is a prize to win!
Because I wasn’t a fan of running, when I took my first job after graduating from college, I would go to a local gym to stay in shape. I steered clear of running – and instead I took step and aerobics classes.
I couldn’t run 10 minutes without stopping to walk, but I would make it through those hour-long classes with no problem. That’s pretty good endurance, right? Yes, I endured, but I didn’t make any forward progress. I was at the same place that I had been at the start of the class.
How many times do we put so much effort into doing something we deem beneficial, but in the end, it really doesn’t bring any progress into our lives at all. We are just working ourselves to say we are doing something, but 10 years later we are still in the same spot. Maybe on our jobs, or in our marriage? Or in our plans for the future?
And honestly, most of the challenges I was facing in life were repetitive, like I was on a Merry Go Round. High one moment, low the next, and continually going in circles, and fighting the same types of battles.
What do we need to do to move forward? Aren’t you ready to get off the Merry Go Round? I know I am! I thought about the behaviors new runners need to employ to train for sustaining longer distances:
Build Regular Training Habits – Are we regularly spending time with God? Reading the Bible? Attending a church consistently and building relationships? Checking in with a Christian friend for encouragement and accountability?
Be Consistent – Once we determine the habits we need to put into practice, we need to develop a routine of spending time with God and reading the Bible. This daily quality time spent with God and in His Word yields spiritual growth and close communion with Him. Are mornings or evenings better? Lunch break or after work? What daily, weekly and monthly patterns can be utilized to strengthen the Christian walk?
Increase Your Stamina – Are there groups available to join? Possibly to read a book together and discuss? Or a small group through a church where topics are discussed with like-minded individuals? Maybe an e-group on a social media platform where we can freely share encouragement and receive inspiration in return? Building relationships with a strong circle of Believers in different capacities can directly impact the ability to withstand spiritual attacks, as we know there is strength in numbers.
Learn New Techniques – There are so many resources to help us grow stronger in our spiritual walk. Conferences and retreats can transport us to different environments, where we can be exposed to different topics, practices, and points of view. There are Social Media platforms, blogs, podcasts, books, magazines – the available resources that can bring new insight and direction are truly are endless.
This past weekend I was able to take the girls to see the movie Overcomer. When I first saw the trailer about 4 months ago, I knew this story was going to speak to me, as it was about a young, African-American teenage girl, who was going to overcome some huge obstacle, by the hand of God.
The theme song, Overcomer, by Mandisa (of American Idol fame) was one I would listen to often while Kennedi was going through her healing and rehabilitation period. It truly was a life-changing movie, and without giving the story away, the coaching the main character received during her race was powerful and ties in directly with our topic.
This race we are running can be brutal, but no matter what we’re feeling, no matter how much pain our “legs” are feeling, we must hold onto the promises of God, find our 2nd wind, and not give up. When we listen to our bodies while running either physically or spiritually, they will always tell us to stop. Our physical nature will always want relief from pain and discomfort. But there is no victory in taking the easy way out and quitting the race.
I invite you to be my training partner – let’s keep moving forward with endurance, with our eyes on set on the author and finisher of our faith. With His help we can endure our cross, disregarding any shame, because there IS JOY waiting for us! Even though we can’t see it, the finish line is ahead. Keep moving forward, one step, and one breath at a time!
Are you weary in your race? Have you thought about giving something up?
Which of the above training techniques could you start today? Can you find someone to be your training partner as you decide to stay in the race? Praise God!
Feel free to share your response in the comments section…