Taking the Hills


I want to know Christ...and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him.
Philippians 3:10


Running experts recommend not attempting a long distance run such as a half marathon until you can run easily run three miles. I'm not sure what their definition of easy is but after ten years of running, three miles still doesn't feel "easy". 


My typical three mile route is equally divided by a large hill. Each time I approach it I think to myself. This is my day. Today this hill will seem easy. But easy doesn't come until I'm on the other side of it.


Me and my second favorite running partner...
I find running hills difficult for three reasons: 


1. I Don't Like Hills


If God made queues for his various blessings, I doubt anyone, myself included, would line up under "Difficulty" or "Hardship". We avoid life's hills because we don't like them. No one likes suffering but life's challenges mold us into the shape of Christ. 


I don't like hills but I love becoming more like the One who purchased my victory on one.


2. I Change My Posture


When I face a hill, I'm tempted to lean forward, shorten my stride and gut it out. All these things work against my ability to run them. Difficulty can also change my posture. Typical advice during hard seasons is to "keep the faith", "you can do it" or "you got this." 


These admonishments sound upbeat but actually move my posture from one of humility and depending on God to one of pride and depending on me. When I face a hill, I need to maintain a posture of total reliance on God. He is the One who carries me up the steepest challenge.


3. My Breathing Gets Shallow


Hills wreck my breathing. It goes from slow and steady to quick and shallow. I used to wonder how it was someone could "pray without ceasing" until I heard it described and spiritual breathing. 


As circumstances come in, we breathe a prayer out.
As a situation arises, we breathe a prayer out.
As a difficult personality confronts us, we breathe a prayer out.


When I face trouble, my temptation is to let my prayer life get shallow. The one sentence prayers we've been studying (review the first three here, here, and here) allow us to keep our spiritual breath even throughout the day.


I may never run three miles with ease. Hills may never cease to daunt me. But I can choose a running partner, a posture and a pattern of breathing that transforms the uphill climb as it transforms me.


Are you facing a life hill? How could you alter your posture and breathing to better face your challenge?
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For more inspiration on preparing for life's big events, download Shannon's free 30 day prayer guide, PrePrayed: Preparation for Life's Events or Shannon's 8 Life Transforming Prayers.

17 comments:

  1. i love this parallel! this is going to stick with me....

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    1. Thanks, Kendal! I love it when God gives us a practical way to remember His truth. :)

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  2. Cute picture Shannon. It doesn't seem fair that the things we should be used to are still hard and challenge us. But if it was no longer a challenge it would be to easy to quit huh?

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    1. For sure. Tomorrow I'm planning to run 11 miles and the low is 78 here tomorrow morning. But if life, running, marriage, parenting, etc. were easy it wouldn't be near as rewarding!

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  3. Well, you know I'm running up hill in the heat, and I have the same thing...forward leaning posture and short breaths. My husband says to think to yourself, flat, flat, flat. It never really works for me, but I choose the up hill over the easy, because I know it's harder and therefore good for me. The good things in life aren't easy, right?

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    1. Okay I'm going to try that next Tuesday (my next 3 mile day) - flat, flat, flat. :)

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  4. Shannon, I'm sure you know enough about me by now to know how much I can relate to your words here. I love running, but I really don't like the hills and the amount of endurance and perseverance it takes to tackle them. I love running, but I really don't like injuries that set me back and require patience for healing. I love running, but I really don't like the mental discipline it takes to push through the initial exhaustion my body screams. And it is so in my spiritual run as well. BUT -- Oh the JOY that courses through me when my run is complete. And somehow I crave more. I want God to continue to transform me. I'd prefer it be painless, but I know better. :)

    {{{Hugs to you, friend!}}}

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    1. Love how you realize pain is a part of the transformation process and therefore so worth it! :)

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  5. Running Any Hill Is Very Hard, But You Just Have To Keep Trying ! anna

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  6. I concur...love the parallel! "Are you facing a life hill?"
    "Hills wreck my breathing." YES!!! oh my...this is an excellent reminder for me to remember TO BREATH! "As a situation arises" and the hill wrecks my breathing.I.Forget.to.breath. Breath solution in. Breath problem out. works really well for me! THANK YOU. very timely!

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    1. Breathing to the rhythm of His grace... :)

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  7. This is a great post Shannon! Going up that hill or mountain is a tough obstacle..but we have to just keep on going because in due season we will overcome!

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    1. Amen! He is an overcomer and we are His!

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  8. Funny how life is that sometimes we run from the very things that we need in life - like God and His word, especially when the 'up hill' battle seems to never end. Thanks for the sweet reminder that we need to keep on believing despite the circumstances.
    Have a great weekend.

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    1. You are so right but I want to run to Him not away from Him. :)

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  9. I always love your blog. I often forget that you need to hear that from those of us who read it and recommend it. Thanks for continuing to write it.

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