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You Can Go On

I settled on my first fitness goal of the year being to run a 5k. But not just run it- to train for it.  I figured it’d force me to get that Vitamin D and to consistently work out. I followed the training plan and got’er done. After completing the 5k, I thought, hmmm, that wasn’t so bad, maybe I should do a 10k. I’ve never ran a 10k before and was intimidated by running for that length. Yet I somehow finished that goal too!  Now I’m training for my first ever half-marathon. 
I’ve learned a bit about myself during the training and have noticed some spiritual parallels that I thought I’d share with you. 
My pace is okay.
I average a little over an 11 minute mile. I used to be a little embarrassed to share that with my runner friends and associates. Whenever they’d ask about my speed, I’d preface it by saying: “I’m a slow runner.” Interestingly none of them were shocked, they never made judgmental faces; they were practically unphased by it and often encouraged me. They were more okay with my pace than I was.

I’ve lived my life a little like this too. When I think of my age and where I want to be and where I want to go, I often feel that I’m moving too slow. But, I’m slowly realizing that’s okay.  My pace is my pace and my pace is okay. What’s important is that I keep going. What’s important is that I show up. What’s important is that I enjoy the journey. And in all that, I grow, making slow progress, but progress nonetheless. 

Do you know how fast a tortoise is? - .62 mph. Do you know how fast a hare is? 37-45 mph. I hate to be cliche’ but the tortoise does win the race- by his focus, his showing up and his consistency. 

The Spiritual parallel: 

I win the spiritual race when I show up- consistently seeking God, when I focus on my race, when I’m unphased by the hare- whether they’re far ahead of me, or taking a break. It’s not about them- it’s about me and God. My pace is my pace and my pace is okay.

You can go a little further.

As I trained for the 5k and the 10k and continue to train for the half-marathon, each week the long distance run increases. Each week it’s a distance I’ve never run before. When I look at the distance there’s a smidge of “oh boy.” There’s a little trepidation of the unknown, but as I keep training it gets easier to wrap my head around the fact that I CAN go a little further. Each additional mile has shown me that I am stronger than I think. The miles have shown me I got a little more in me. 

The spiritual parallel: 

The last 19 months of journeying through COVID have felt like we’ve journeyed so long. The US is now over 700k deaths. And we’re not through it yet.

Then there was that week of crises- from the earthquake in Haiti to the Taliban take over in Afghanistan. There’s opinions on all of it. Everyone takes sides or wants us to take sides. The church continues to argue. 

On top of the world’s troubles we still have our own struggles, our own friends and family going through difficult things. 

The discouragement rolls in. For the last year and half it has felt like running in the direct beam of the sun with no shade in sight. 

Life has tried to stop us in our tracks. The enemy of our souls has lied to us and told us it doesn’t get any better. That we don’t have it in us. That we shouldn’t continue to journey with the church. That we have no more capacity to love. That we’re spent. 

I connect to those feelings. A year ago as I was reading Psalm 13, I connected with the lament, and maybe you can too. 

“O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? 

How long will you look the other way? 

How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day?”

(Psalm 13: 1-2a)

As I read those words I felt my own lament rising up and wrote these words: 

How long, Oh Lord will my people weep, and cry in frustration?

How long, Oh Lord, will the church take political sides?

How long, Oh Lord will we spout politics and facts instead of listen and grieve?

How long, Oh Lord will the church not see the enemy playing his hand?

How long, Oh Lord will we fan the flames of division and neglect the knees of humility? 

How long, Oh Lord will the church play the political game but sit on the sidelines of the kingdom?

If this resonates with you, I can imagine you’re experiencing the feeling of weight in your legs, and burdened breaths with each step forward. I’ve felt that. I’ve felt that. And yet I go a little further. 

There are times when I don’t think the world can handle any more heartbreak, but we can go a little further. Not because we can but because HE CAN. He holds us together, lifts our heads and reminds us of his promises. Promises of his presence, of his strength, of his growing fruit in us. Promises of a coming redemption and restoration of all things. 

Paul uses the analogy of an athlete training and when faced with life’s challenges said of the Lord “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul recognizes “When I am weak, I am strong.” God’s grace is sufficient for you. For me. When we are weak, we are strong. The Holy Spirit undergirds us with strength; with grit; with will to keep it moving. When we’re tired and weary, we can come to him and get new breath in our lungs, strength in our legs and the ability to go on. 

As the old folks use to say, more specifically Andrae’ Crouch, 

“Can’t nobody do me like Jesus…

Healed my body, then told me to run on.”

Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash


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