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Chest Wide Open

“Keep your chest open, so your lungs can take the oxygen in.”

That’s the voice that was playing in my head when I was running this morning.  Funny how such a simple change in posture can change an aerobic experience so much.  A piece of advice I inadvertently got from a home improvement show, of all things.

But it has made a huge difference for me in my lung capacity which has always been my major downfall when it comes to running.  If my shoulders are hunched or I’m leaning forward, I don’t have the same volume of air available when it need it more with exertion. When my body is aligned properly, it reduces my chance of injury, as well.  Shoulders down, chest open, back straight, hands low and relaxed.

The right posture will allow me run further and longer and ultimately more comfortably.  I can argue that I can run any way I want to, but I can testify that that approach is only shooting myself in the (running) foot.  The proper positioning of my body allows maximum results.  It’s how my body runs most efficiently and effectively.  It’s how every body was meant to run.  (Even those of us who will never consider ourselves “runners” :-). )

Physical running does good things for my heart.

But I have another heart I’m ever more concerned for.  My spiritual heart and soul.

Under the two main headings of Love God and Love People, God has given us instructions for our run on the path of life.  Every specific thing He asks of us has everything to do with our relationship with Him and with other people and the health of our spiritual hearts.  As our running Coach, He hasn’t asked anything of us that He hasn’t done or been already.  It’s why He’s given us the Holy Spirit, that very part of Himself, as our running Partner.  That voice in our ear that cheers us on and reminds us to stay on course.  To love and live well.  And because He lives in us, it is just a matter of letting Him be the one that lives out that life in me.  A natural outflowing of His life in me.

I can (and, at times I have) choose to run any way I want on any path I want.  Given free will, I am able to choose.  But if I do, I’m neglecting to remember that how God has asked me to “run” in this life is how He CREATED me to run. It’s how I protect myself from “injury”.  It’s how I spiritually function and grow at my highest capacity.  His way of “running” is like opening my chest, expanding my lung capacity and relaxing my clinched hands.  It’s actually the free-est running.  It’s being in position to experience the greatest joy (regardless of my circumstances), the best communication (with my Coach and others), the deepest peace (in spite of the fast pace around me) and the most beautiful results (kindness, patience, perseverance, love, forgiveness, etc.) It’s the fruit of the Spirit – a blooming that happens naturally when we are in the position of loving God and people and are listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and responding to that coaching.

My knees hurt on my run today.  I think it might be my IT band (having heard stories from my husband and friends).  The pain is a red flag that something is awry.  Some type of correction will have to be made to keep me running optimally.  Or I can ignore it and allow it to turn into something more painful and serious.  The choice is mine, but the results will be very different in each scenario.

The same is true on the path of life.  I need to heed the red flags that fly when I’m headed in a wrong direction.  If I don’t, there will be a progression that will end up in greater pain and more severe aftermath.

I want to run free.  Chest wide open.  Ready to breathe in the freshest oxygen, with nothing holding me back.  I want that for my daily jog.  I want that for my daily life…

Hebrews 12:1-2 – 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.

Psalm 16:11 – You make known to me the path of life;  you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Nehemiah 9:19 – Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the wilderness. By day the pillar of cloud did not fail to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take.

* And from my friend, Shelly – “To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.”  Winston Churchill


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