Monday, December 10, 2007

Running With Endurance

Last week, I ran three days in a row. I know, I know, I learned the hard way that this is not the most effective (or wise) way to begin a running pattern. Thankfully (I think), I came down with a cold Thursday evening that kept me in bed for a few days, so I was off the treadmill for four days. When I got back on last night, I wondered if I would have the will power to actually run or if I would just do a brisk walk and call it quits. I have this history with running, you know. As I let my legs warm up and turned on my mP3 player, I actually started feeling excited about my run. I was so curious to see how my body would respond. It was fun! When I first started running, I was averaging--now bear in mind that I'm in my 30's and am completely out of shape. No smirks, please--a 15 minute mile and I could barely run that one mile. Last night, I ran 1.6 miles! And, my first mile took 14 minutes and my last .6 mi. only took 6 minutes! As a bonus, I cranked up the treadmill the last 2 minutes just to see if I could run faster, and I could! I actually enjoyed my run tremendously. My legs were still like jelly and I was sweating like, well, like someone who just ran a mile and a half, but I enjoyed the run. It got me thinking...

We're in this spiritual race. Hebrews says,
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. Hebrews 12:1
While I was nursing my cold, my body was actually building and repairing its tissues and muscles, making me stronger. What appeared to be a time of physical inactivity was in reality a time of great improvement. When I returned to the dreaded treadmill, my body was capable of running faster, further and with more endurance. More endurance...hmmm.

Are you feeling, today, right now, in this moment, like you are not even in the race? Not because you choose not to be (that's another issue all together), but because the Lord has side-lined you? Do you feel like He has asked you to sit next to the foot path and wait? That can be so frustrating. Especially as you watch other runners sprinting ahead, getting so far ahead they seem to disappear.

Take heart! Jesus knows you and has prepared this race for you, so you can reach the goal, the finish line. It takes endurance, though. Running at full speed day in and day out may seem like the best way to accomplish the goal, but this often leads to spiritual burn-out. Instead, scheduled down time, to build and repair your spiritual muscles, will help increase your endurance. God is so loving and wise. He only lets us see a little bit of the path. If He showed us the deep, lonely valleys or the long stretches of desert or the rocky mountain paths, we would lose heart. He stops us along the way to give us rest, to let our spiritual muscles build, to increase our endurance so we will reach the goal. So we can travel the road ahead. He knows the way. He knows you. He knows what is best. Trust in that.

Thank You, Lord, for giving me strength to run physically and spiritually. Help me to appreciate the times you cause rest for me. Help me to truly rest, instead of railing against Your will. Help me to trust You more. In Jesus' name, Amen.