Running? Why would anyone run if they weren’t being chased? What do you mean when you say “fun run”? Isn’t that an oxymoron? That’s what I used to think until about a year and a half ago when I started running for exercise and to get ready to run the Coronado Bay Bridge. After the bridge run, I felt good and wanted to continue. I kept at it with the encouragement of a few friends, and completed a half marathon last August. It was exciting coming across the finish line, but man was I sore. I thought I had trained enough so I wouldn’t feel so bad once I finished. I guess it could have been worse. I saw people at the 3 mile mark looking like they wouldn’t make it to 4. I began to wonder why on earth they signed up for a 13.1 mile run and hadn’t, at least from my perspective, trained for it ahead of time. Did they think they could just wake up, go to the start line, and finish a run like that without training for it?
Then I started wondering about our spiritual race. The one Paul talked about in 1st Corinthians chapter 9. Should we think that we can just wake up one day, become a Christian, and everything will be just peachy? That we will never stumble? Why do we think we don’t need to go to church, or hang out with and encourage other Christians? What makes us think we can run the race of life, the Christian life, without constant training? I trained for almost a year, got serious and on an actual schedule about 16 weeks before the race, and I still felt like I had my butt kicked the day after the race. Did I miss a day or two here and there during my training? Of course. Could I have trained better? Sure. Am I going to do it again? You bet! What a sense of accomplishment. I praise God for giving me the ability to do it and thank him for being with me throughout everything.
Here are a few lessons for the race of life that I learned from my run.
- It’s a lot easier to do when you have someone beside you, encouraging you, challenging you. There are those days where you don’t even feel like getting out of bed, much less going for a training run, even when everyone else is busy and you have to go by yourself. What do you do? Do you say to yourself, “I’ll just take off this week and make up for it next week”? Everyone else is going to watch the game today, so what could it hurt. After all, it’s just one day!
- It takes determination and commitment. Many a time during my training I had to ask myself what I was doing this for…especially after a hard run. I felt sore and beat up, but always came back to my motivation. We as Christians should have the perfect motivation and example in Jesus. (Ephesians 5:1-20 sets out a great example on how we should live).
- A good pair of shoes helps! Ok, that doesn’t really apply to our spiritual race, but boy a good pair of shoes helps your run. Then again, maybe Eph 6:15 applies: “For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you can be fully prepared” (NLT). Who doesn’t want to run the race “fully prepared”? God’s peace can help you to keep running and running and running and… If we’re worried about what awaits us around the next turn we won’t be able to focus on the ultimate goal. So lace up your feet daily with the Good News and run in peace!
- Training, training, training. Don’t ever stop training for something that’s important. Is our spiritual race important? I guess that depends on where you want to end up. Our pastor has been going through a series on “The Journey” and things that are important. One thing he says every week is that we will all end our journey one day, but will we finish in the location we want to be in or will we be where we want to be when it’s all over? Are we headed in the right direction and are we running in that direction on purpose? If we’re not focused on the “prize” as Paul put it, we can get distracted by all sorts of things that will waste our time and seek to keep us from reaching our goal.
- Sole-mates. Or if you wish, Soul-mates…those friends that encourage you day after day or week after week, to keep you going either by their example or their motivating words. All of us tend to hang out with those we want to be like or those who want to be like us. If your friends are not helping you reach your goal, in fact if they are hindering you from reaching your goal, it might be time to re-evaluate the friendship. I’m not saying necessarily finding new friends but maybe it’s time to help them change or get them focused and back in the race especially if it’s a Christian brother or sister.
So what’s next? Well, for me, another Half-Marathon in January. I’m already in training again using what I have learned from the last one to make sure I don’t, or at least try not to make the same mistakes I made last time. In the spiritual realm it’s time to read through the Bible in a year…again. But that’s a different story and maybe the subject of another article. Until then, keep running!!!