How my running is like my faith

This weekend I attended the Women of Faith conference in Des Moines.  Throughout the worship time, as we sang about running to Christ, I had a visual image in my head of me running the course of the Women Rock Marathon next weekend in St. Paul.  As I run, I often pray.  It’s my time with Him.  Time to mull over, pray about, and seek answers on things that are going on in my life.  Also a time to praise God for all that He’s given me.  One speaker challenged us to write down a thousand blessings we have in our lives.  I have gone through the blessings God has given me in my head as I run countless times.  While there are struggles, He is so good!  My family, my amazing friends, new relationships, His forgiveness, and His intervention in taking me out of situations I didn’t know how to get out of myself- just to name a few.

This morning, the minister spoke about living a radical life for Christ.  He focused on what christianity really is.  It comes at a cost.  We must be willing to sacrifice some things in our lives to live a God-centered life.  It requires change.  We must be willing to give up some “routines” or things that seem “natural” to us.  It requires commitment. Our choices and lifestyle need to reflect that commitment.  And it requires compliance.  If we don’t comply with the commandments that God has put before us, we will simply come up short.

It dawned on me.  Running is so much like my faith.  Running requires a dramatic change in my lifestyle.  I can’t enjoy as many happy hours with my friends, it requires a stricter diet, an earlier bedtime, an earlier morning to get my runs in before work, and more often than not it means I stay home alone on Friday nights so that I can get up at a crazy early time Saturday mornings to run longer distances.

For me, giving those things up, making choices and changing my lifestyle, and complying with those changes, those requirements is pretty easy.  Sure, I falter at times.  I stay out too late, I eat bad, I sleep in… which often results in missing a training run the next day.  But I can keep a determined mindset and get back on track the next day.  In my head, I know that 1 day “off” is not reason to throw me off track and veer me off from reaching my goal.  The goal to finish the race, to become faster, to push myself to experience heights that I have not experienced before keeps me motivated beyond belief.  It’s easy for me to stay on track.

Why, then, is it so hard for me to stay focused and bring that same determination and persistence into my walk with God?  Sure, I go to church on Sunday and I attend small group on Wednesday.  But the rest of the week?  I know I should set aside time each day to read a daily devotion, to open my bible, to spend time in His word.  By doing those things, I will also reach heights that I have not experienced before.  I know this.  I want this.  Yet, disciplining myself to reach those heights seems so much harder.

As a runner, I’ve proven to myself that I have discipline, commitment, and self-control.  I follow my coach’s instruction and it’s easy to let go of “my way” and listen so that I can improve.  Yet, when it comes to following God’s word, listening to Him and trusting Him in guiding my life, I want to keep control of what’s happening.  It’s a constant struggle to “let go” of what I think I should do and just listen and follow the path that He already has planned for my life.

Yet, I rely on God’s word to get me through the marathons and the training plans that I follow.  I have Mark 9:23 “Anything is possible if a person believes” inscribed on a bracelet that I wear everyday.  It reminds me that if I believe I can finish the race, if I believe that I can improve my times, I can!  I recite Romans 12:1 “Let us run with endurance the race He has set before us” in my head over and over.  And I start each run with new energy and enthusiasm.  I pray while I’m running, asking for strength to finish and praise Him for the ability to run on two legs and for my health and the simple ability to run!

If I rely on him as I run, shouldn’t I be just as dedicated to my faith as I am to running?  I’ll end with the thought that the minister ended on this morning.  When we don’t comply, we simply come up short.  When we comply, we allow a transformation to take place.  I am ready to be bold.  I am ready to run the race for God.  And THAT, my friends, is why I will be running with renewed vigor and enthusiasm next Saturday.

Cheers!

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