One year ago this weekend I ran my first “distance” race… I ran an 8K (5 miles). Since then I have run two 8K’s, two half marathons and a full marathon (26.2 miles!). This has been much to the surprise and amusement of anyone whose known me longer than this past year. Though always an athlete, I was very vocally “anti-running.” I’ve had to eat a lot of my words!!
I have been remarkably surprised at how enjoyable distance running is, how achievable it is, and what a spiritually growing experience it is as well. The latter really shouldn’t have surprised me, seeing how the Bible contains numerous running metaphors and illustrations. Nevertheless, I’ve gained a whole new appreciation and understanding of what those scriptures are REALLY about having now experienced it first-hand!
Endurance and perseverance take on whole new meaning… especially after about 10 miles! So does “running the good race,” “counting the cost,” and “keeping your eyes fixed on the prize.”
I think going on a long run is similar to fasting in many ways. Disciplining your body to do something that is not easy or comfortable develops character, and brings what is really in your soul to the surface…. both good and bad. There’s no faking it or sugar-coating who you are at mile 18! Denying your body what it wants (to STOP running!) makes your flesh take a back seat and can give the Holy Spirit an opportunity to speak things you might not otherwise hear. I’ve had some awesome and enlightening spiritual experiences while running… often during the crappy miles, no less!
Today I ran a half marathon without a running partner/friend. I really like running with someone. The conversation and encouragement make it a lot more fun and a lot easier. But today I didn’t have someone else to lean on when miles were getting tough. Today I got to REALLY learn about “fixing my eyes on the prize,” and how it applies to our spiritual walks as well.
If you concern yourself with people you are passing along the way, you get arrogant. And unless you’re a Kenyan, you’re never going to pass EVERYONE. If you concern yourself with people who are passing YOU along the way, you get discouraged. Ultimately, whether you pass people or they pass you doesn’t matter; what matters is that you FINISH. You have to keep your eyes on the goal and run the race to finish it! Lots of people start a race with zeal and enthusiasm, but when the excitement fades and fatigue sets in, you must have your eyes fixed on something greater that what is happening around you or in you if you are going to keep going.
Don’t worry how you compare to anyone else. Fix your eyes on Jesus and run your good race, enduring and persevering! Encourage someone else to keep going, and count on someone else encouraging you, too!