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Drum roll please…

I started running again this week.  I know, I know.  I am the most inconsistent runner on the planet.  Of this I am well aware.  Which makes sense because I really, really hate it.  Or at least I always did.

Until yesterday.  I have written myself a letter.  A literal NOTE TO SELF.  It’s comprised of the things I want to see in and about myself a year from now.  I sealed the letter and won’t read it now until next January.  Some might say this feels a lot like a New Year’s resolution.  But to me it feels different.  It feels deliberate and accountable and appeals to my desire to continue to grow and not remain the same person with time.  It is my challenge to myself.  Everything on the list is absolutely attainable.  IF I stay focused and intentional.  Somehow the thought that I have to read my own handwriting in a year and see if I’ve followed through motivates me to that intentionality.

All that to say, running was on that list.  No huge goals of running a marathon or anything, but a concrete and specific place that I want to be with that running a year from now.

And though I know my tendency to run for a while and then get bored with the whole thing, I’m thinking this time will be different.  Not just because it’s on my list. Not because of the 10 pounds or so I’d like to lose.  But because I want to view it each day as a visual for what God is doing on the inside of me.

There are so many analogies.  And my entire body felt every one of them.  The way my thighs ached as I was heading up the big hills.  The way my heart pounded in my ears with every pounding of my feet on the sidewalk.  My heavy breathing. My knees feeling the stress of running downhill.  The cool morning air on my face.  The beautiful music in my ears that kept me going. My eyes taking in the lovely scenery all around me. The relief in my entire being when I slowed to a warm down pace.

Running is like life.  Ups and downs.  Pain and exhilaration.  Hard work and pay off.

But it has even more correlations to our spiritual life.  There’s a reason that Paul uses the analogy of a race when talking about his faith life.

As I was running it occurred to me that we might misinterpret the word “race”.  We might think of competition or trying to be better than the next person which is completely missing the point. We might think he’s talking about the fast pace of the race.  No.  The writer of Hebrews and Paul in the book of Acts is referring to the mindset of a race.  The deliberate training.  The passion.  The intensity.  The goal orientation.  Letting all the things that I felt in my body this morning to happen in my heart.  To let the pain have its way and do its thing to grow and change and refine me.

And it’s not so much about the pace of the race, but the intentionality of it.  I am a slow runner.  In the literal sense.  But if I am consistent and keep going even when I’m bored or tired, I will get the results I’m looking for.  In my spiritual life, it’s easy for me to get excited and run ahead to see what’s next.  But in this season, God is allowing me to take the time to walk the race.  To heal my broken parts and walk with Him on the course.  To give myself permission to slow down and take in some of the scenery I would miss if my pace were any faster.

Tomorrow I will get up at six a.m. and head out again.  It might hurt more tomorrow.  It might actually feel better.  Just like life.  Just like spiritual life.  But as long as I am in the company of my Coach, I will have what I need to keep going.  Maybe fast, maybe slow, maybe somewhere in the middle.  But moving forward.  And that’s enough…

Acts 20:23-24 –  I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.  However, I consider my life worth nothing to me;my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

Hebrews 12:1-3 – 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. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.


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