I remember that first afternoon as if it were yesterday. It was a temperate day for a North Florida summer. I had my running clothes on and was ready to impress my new friend. Though I had never run a days in my life I figured it couldn't be all that much harder than walking and I'd been doing that for over thirty years already.
It took me exactly one block to find out that running was far more laborious than walking. With my breath coming in desperate little puffs, I urged my body to continue. Then it happened. My running companion said, "If you need to slow down I'll just go on ahead and lap you later." I could not have been more motivated to run than if a Rottweiler were barrelling down on my behind.
This morning I am reading the 12th chapter of Hebrews. This is an inspiring passage that motivates that reader to want to know God more intimately and walk with Him more closely. "Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." (Verse 1) That first day I ran eight years ago I had more desire than perseverance. Today I can run miles without even losing my breath. I have learned to run with persistence. This passage gives three ways I can learn to run in my faith with stamina as well.
- Fix Your Eyes (Verse 2) - There have been times when the thought of running even a mile was more than I could imagine. Rather than thinking about running a great distance, I fix my eyes on an upcoming house, tree or mailbox and will myself to just keep running until I reach that marker. Then I pick out another roadside attraction and make myself run until I reach it. If I do this enough times, eventually I've run much farther than I originally thought possible. The author tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus. If I want to go farther in my faith, I need to keep my eyes on Jesus and let Him lead me to the next roadside attraction He has in store for my life.
- Do Not Grow Weary (Verse 3) - Some days I'm just tired and truly don't want to run at all or I want to stop midstream and just give up. On those days, I stop thinking about my present circumstances like my burning lungs or my aching feet and instead force myself to think about the better things that await me at home. I daydream about a dinner date Scott and I may be taking later in the week or a special activity I have planned with one of my children. In my faith walk I grow weary when I get all wrapped up in the here and now. Every moment of my life should be lived in light of eternity. When I refocus my mind on Christ my day takes on new purpose and the mundane an excitement that only God can give.
- Do Not Lose Heart (Verse 3) - That first day I took off running, what I didn't know is that it was a lot more than just my legs that would require strengthening. My cardiovascular system was in for a major overhaul as well. At first I could only run a few blocks before I was out of breath with a heart racing out of my chest. Overtime, I began to gain control over my breathing and eventually I stopped "losing heart". Likewise, discouragement can have a major impact on my spiritual life. If my prayer life seems empty or my Bible study stale, I begin to feel like I'm wasting my time and want to quit. However, a healthy heart toward God is not developed doing sprints; long distance running is required. I have to spend time with God consistently over a long period of time to see real growth and change happen in my life.
Jesus, You are the ultimate personal trainer. You have taken this uncoordinated, unathletic girl and turned her into a long-distance runner. While it is true I run on the roads, it is the run of life You've taught me that is far more miraculous. On today's run, I will keep my eyes on You, not grow weary and not lose heart. Thank you for being my running partner.