I was slow, my average was off, I would just roll my eyes when my tracker would update my progress every five minutes. I felt like I was just dragging along. I had two choices, keep running or stop which would mean to give up. I thought alright, I’m not running my usual, but I can just keep running, try to maintain the goal of 6 miles, even if it takes me longer. It was a hard go, I just kept pushing, ENDURE! I also had to be patient with myself, realizing I have to be able to run even when I’m tired. So after 66 minutes, 3 to 4 minutes off my usual, I did it! This brings me to the three words I have been pondering this week.
I liken this to our spiritual race that Paul talks of in Hebrews 12:1b…”let us run with patience the race that is set before us…” It is a race, a run, not a slow casual walk. Our “spiritual run” takes patience (constancy, patient continuance). We can’t give up, and quit, yes we may slow down, but never quit! When running you have obstacles to dodge, mental fatigue, weather, small pebbles, muddy paths, uneven paths that could cause a stumble. You must concentrate, aware of your surroundings and just keep placing one foot in front of the other. These are just a few. If you would check the criteria listed by the professionals to run a race or marathon you will understand what I’m talking about. I have only scratched the surface.
Our “spiritual run” faces obstacles as well, and we must dodge these, too. Think of the obstacles in your way, things that would make you stumble. This is when we need to focus on the Lord, mindful if we are not careful we could stumble, and this could result in an injury that will take you out of the race. Everyone’s obstacles are different.
Let me get back to the natural aspects of running…
Last year, after years of running, I started using an app that gauges my speed & my distance. To my dismay, I was not faring as well as I thought. What a discouragement!!! Just because one runs does not make them qualified to run a marathon. I was not running the distance I thought, nor the speed. No way was I ready for a marathon, I would need much preparation. I must set some goals first. Small ones, I must run faster, maintain a certain average, otherwise the distance won’t be attained. This takes great perseverance, just to keep jogging for the hour. If I had not acquired this app to measure me, I would have never realized my shortcomings.
You must have the proper shoes & socks. I have realized I needed to buy some proper shoes and blister resistance socks. If I’m going to run a marathon of 26.2 miles, I have much preparation to work toward the goal of maintaining an average of 6 or more miles an hour. Time to get rid of some obstacles, so I start with my outer gear.
Firstly socks, my improper socks led to terrible blisters. Now I have socks that whisk away the perspiration. Next my shoes, I have a terrible pain in my heel all because I have been running in the wrong shoes. So I visit a running shoe specialist, mindful of my tight budget and I’m tested, do I run with a pronation (rolling in of the foot; turning inward)? Results, no pronation, so now I’m fitted with the shoes that match my running goals and budget.
A year later, I have increased my average speed and distance. Yet it doesn’t stop here, I’m still training because in September I’m running the Berlin Marathon, Lord willing! My diet is now playing a huge role for my endurance in a long run; you need certain foods to fuel energy. You also need to be properly hydrated; electrolytes must be maintained for muscle strength.
Going back to Paul’s words in Roman, “let us run…”
This race for the goal, life eternal, what preparation is needed? How could one think that it is just a mere way of living for Christ? What about our preparation, what kind of shoes are we wearing? Are our feet shod with the gospel, or are we trying to run this race spiritually with flip-flops. For a short time this might work but not for long distances, even just a stroll this way may be ok. Note Paul said it was a race, not just a walk. Yet, how can I run for this cause, if I’m not first walking with Him! Just because I think I’m a Christian doesn’t make me one. I must live the life.
We must have our own “app” to check our progress spiritually. May it be our spiritual advisor, the Holy Bible or His precious Holy Spirit; still we must measure ourselves, note the shortcomings, and set goals to improve. Running a marathon is not easy, so how can we expect to “run this race” and it to be easy? Without sacrifices, no way! Spiritually do you have the strength to endure? Have we gotten rid of weights & the sin that so easily beset (a competitor thwarting a racer in every direction) us? (Hebrews 12:1b) You can not run naturally with your arms laden down with bags. What is weighing you down? What about the sin in your life?
How about your diet? Are you feasting on the Bread from Heaven or spiritual junk food, the things that satisfy for a moment, yet leave you hungry for more? Have you tasted of the graciousness of the Lord? (1 Peter 2:3) How about the Bread of Life? “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger…” How about drinking from His fountain? What waters are you seeking to quench your thirst but you only find bitter waters? “…..he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (1 John 6:35) Talk about nourishment for this “spiritual race”! This is Jesus! Let’s feast at His table where there is joy forever more.
You can see the parallel of the “spiritual race” and the natural race. Discipline is needed for both.
It is time for us to access ourselves. Set some goals. Change our lifestyle. Listen to your tracker, as it keeps you updated on your progress. Just…….
“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8)
Come quickly, Lord Jesus!