Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Running to Persevere

On Saturday, I ran a long-ish run with my great friend and fellow sem-wife, who is training with me for the half-marathon in April. As we began our run we started talking about running (go figure!), racing, competition, and what motivates us. She mentioned to me that before choosing to set her sights on a race she seeks the Lord diligently in order to determine whether this is a goal worth setting. I was humbled. Whenever I want to race, I pick one that is not too expensive, fits with my schedule, and is far enough off in the future to train for. I didn't really ask the Lord for permission nor did I think about what I could accomplish (besides a faster PR) during my training. Needless to say, I needed a heart check.

These past two days while on a couple of solo runs, I have thought about that very question: what can I accomplish during my training for this race? 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God." Sounds simple enough, right? Well does running fall under the category of "whatever you do"? In short - of course it does. So how can I glorify God through my running? How can I make hours of training out on a pavement path worthwhile? How can I bring honor to God through logging miles? The answers to these questions would likely vary from person to person, but let me share a few thoughts of mine with you in regards to how I can bring glory to God in all things:

1) "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" - (Matthew 6:33) I have a responsibility to put God first practically in my life, through the thoughts that I think and the activities I engage in. For me, I need to carve out time to spend with the Lord, over and above carving out time to run. If the Lord chooses to let both happen, then that's great, but my priority is disciplined time with Him in His word.

2) "Pray without ceasing" - (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Self-explanatory. When I run, I can pray. I like to take advantage of the time alone in order to think and meditate on scripture, and also to intercede for others, confess my sin, and petition God.

3) "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2) - Since I read Hebrews a month or so ago, I have been thinking about this passage. I know that it may sound a little bit ridiculous to compare our 'race' of sanctification with a half-marathon or any other running race, but I think that the imagery is applicable. For those of you who have run before (especially in races) you know that it takes effort, endurance, and persevere to get to the finish line! As I've been running I have been contemplating the parallel that the author of Hebrews makes between an actual athletic race and our race in sanctification: it's a perfect parallel. Paul also puts it well when he uses a similarly "athletic" word to exhort Timothy saying "train yourself" - we must not only train ourselves physically, but train our minds and hearts spiritually.

So the next time you hit the gym, sign up for a race, or compete in some a sporting competition, remember to ask yourself why you are doing it and what can you learn from it to then apply to your life.

Happy Running!

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