I have been running for weeks now. Actually, now that I realize this, I’ve been running faithfully since October, so we’re looking at almost 6 months. I’ve noticed a difference in myself. I’ve learned to love something I hated for a long portion of my life. I’ve learned to enjoy pushing myself and although it’s been hard, I’ve learned to appreciate the discipline of getting up early, and I’ve come to understand the purpose behind racing and even now desire to race hard and win…. hehehe.. I’m a long way off from actually winning prizes or coming in within the first 100 people to complete the race. However, I’m look forward to those days and believe it or not, don’t look at that as something I can never achieve.
I like to find the similarities between running and my spiritual walk with the Lord. I find it correlates well, as did Paul, the Apostle. He wrote about running and our spiritual race and how much the physical race we run is a picture (as so many things in life are) of the spiritual.
Today I officially began to train for a half-marathon. I am looking forward to pushing myself to a new level of dedication. However, as I found out this morning, I’ve been making this training much harder for myself.
You ever have those things in life that you think you’re pushing through well? Then, something happens or you encounter a trial and you realize just how much your sin and/or your flesh have been holding you back! You look back over the last few months/years and can see how much you have deceived yourself into thinking that you could move on in life and in your spiritual walk without ever dealing with this sin issue.
Running has become like that for me. I’ve been running for almost 6 months now at an average of 5 days a week. I’ve been dedicated and pushing forward… or so I thought. However, just last night, when I decided that today was the day to start training completely for this half-marathon, I realized I needed to make a few hard changes to my running “style”.
It’s just like sin, isn’t it? Here we are moving forward (or so we think) in our walk with the Lord and we know that there’s an issue we’re not dealing with. Perhaps, I’m coddling an area of sin in my life. Maybe I’m not dealing with a hidden sin, a respectable sin, or an unsubmissive heart. However, as I push on, I see some growth in my life (by God’s grace) and think in my deception that I can actually be making real spiritual progress while ignoring this issue. I think it’s not that big of a deal, and I move on, move forward, or really, just sidestep a lot in an attempt to focus elsewhere and not deal with this ever-present issue.
This morning I got to the gym and although tired, I knew that today would be a relatively easy run. After all, I’ve been running 7 miles regularly, so a 3-mile run was going to be a piece of cake. I was tempted to run outside today (that will probably start this weekend), but in my tiredness, I figured I could gauge my time better when I was on the treadmill. Let me mention this. I’ve been running on a slight incline on the treadmill (5%) and feeling so good about it. I was “used to it”. However, and I’m ashamed to admit this, I was holding on to the treadmill. At first, I did this … I don’t even know why, but I got into the habit and got used to it. Then, when I hurt my knee a few months back, I felt I “needed” the stability. Now, 6 months into running faithfully, I made the decision to tackle this habit. No more holding on.
What I’ve come to realize is the things in life that I hold onto, the sin, the baggage, the anger, the unforgiveness, and the pride act as crutches in my spiritual walk. At one point or another, I was injured and I believed that I “needed” these feelings to keep me going. I was hurt, so my anger propelled action. I was not falsely accused or unjustly hurt, so my unforgiveness gave me the upper hand. I looked good on the outside, so my hidden sins and my respectable sins looked not as bad as they were.
I attempted to run my first mile this morning at a fast pace on my regular 5% incline. I kept my hands off the treadmill and tried to pace myself. As I ran and was growing exhausted in the first mile, I began to realize just how much my holding on had held me back. My knee was sore as I started, and for a moment, I grabbed the treadmill the way I have for months. The pain disappeared, but I felt my body immediately adjust to the dependency I have had on this piece of equipment. My body straightened up so that I knew I was evening out the incline I had set. I was leaning back to accommodate for that extra strain. I let go, and as humbling as it was for me, even there by myself, after 1 mile, I lowered the incline to 0%. There, on the flat surface, I ran my remaining 2 miles to complete my humbling but rewarding 3 miles according to my ½-Marathon Training Schedule. Although it’s 4 miles back, I feel I now have the freedom to move forward with confidence that I’m running this race to the best of my ability with nothing (including myself) holding me back.
On a much more serious note, as I take the time to look over my walk run with the Lord, I find myself praying for God to open the eyes of my heart to any areas I’ve been holding onto and by doing so, holding myself back. I’ll take the steps back if it’ll make my overall race more productive for the Kingdom and more glorifying to Him!