"Never, Never, Never Quit." Winston Churchill
I keep feeling the Holy Spirit nudge me to go for a run. I hate running and I always have. It's hard and it's not fun. But, I've been complaining to God about how I feel crappy and He keeps reminding me of the obvious- I feel this way because I am not eating healthy and I am not exercising. Of course I am not feeling great because I'm not taking care of my body. God's Word teaches about this exact thing."Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 I am clearly not honoring God with my body when I am eating nothing but sugar and I am not putting in the effort to exercise. No wonder I have felt crappy!
"The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one often comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won't." Henry Ward Beecher
Another reason I believe God is telling me to run is so that I can relate it to my life spiritually and my relationship with Him. The scripture that comes to mind is Hebrews 12:1 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Some days it is easier than others to run the race with perseverance. Some days it's really hard and I feel as though I can't even pick up my feet. On these days, I think of Finding Nemo where they say "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming" and I tell myself "Just keep running, just keep running". :) But what I discovered yesterday is that I was able to run the race (physically go on a long run) and it wasn't hard at all. I started to question why it wasn't hard and ask God to speak to me. He revealed to me that my physical run yesterday was easy because I was focused on Him and relying on Him to help me complete the run. I wasn't looking to the finish line or feeling as though I wasn't going to make it. Instead, I was simply putting one foot in front of the other. This made me think about the spiritual parallel. Some days it is easy to run the race with perseverance that God has marked out for me. Other days I feel like I'm falling apart and I can't even move. I don't even want to continue running. I have no desire to persevere. In both cases, God is faithful to help me. The days that are hard and I feel like giving up, He gives me the strength to endure and press on, no matter how short of a distance I go that day, He is still there by my side. The days that are easy, I realize that I am fixing my eyes on Him and thankful He is helping me. Another thing I thought about is that in my weakness He is strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says "for my power is made perfect in weakness." This was Jesus speaking to His people. Running is a weakness of mine, but yesterday God's power was made perfect in my weakness when I was able to run farther than normal and complete the run with perseverance. God showed me that when I am weak, I can pull from His strength and my weakness will shine.
"Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something that this thing must be attained." Marie Curie
The study notes from my Bible said the following about the Hebrews verse:
Long distance runners work hard to build endurance and strength. On race day, their clothes are lightweight and their bodies lean. To run the race that God has set before us, we must also strip off the excess weight that slows us down. How can we do that? (1) Choose friends who are also committed to the race. Wrong friends will have values and activities that may deter you from the course. Much of your own weight may result from the crowd you run with. Make wise choices. (2) Drop certain activities. That is, for you at this time, these may be weight. Try dropping them for a while; then check the results in your life. (3) Get help for addictions that disable you. If you have a secret "weight" such as pornography, gambling, or alcohol, admit your need and get help today.
Another point God has been making to me when I do go for a run is that exercising builds and strengthens my physical muscles. Therefore, when I'm not running, I'm not building and strengthening my physical muscles. The Lord was bringing to my attention that it is easier for me to run the race with perseverance spiritually rather than physically. I don't mind stepping out in faith and I love growing in my walk with God, so I willingly run. (most of the time...see previous blog on endurance...it's not always easy to run spiritually) He showed me that I exercise my faith muscles often, but I rarely exercise my physical muscles. This is another reason why I have decided to run and asked God to help me stick to this whole physical running thing. :)
God also reminded me while I was running of a word a friend of mine gave me before I went to Ghana. It said "Don't look up from where God has you" This spoke to me because it reminded me that right now, I'm exactly where God wants me to be. I'm learning what He wants me to learn. I'm growing. I'm being stretched. I'm blessed. I'm me. And, I must embrace it and not look up from where God has me, because I won't ever be able to go back to today or this season that God has me in. I need to enjoy every single moment.
So, I encourage you today. If you are a believer, run the race God has set before YOU. And remember, your race won't be the same as your neighbors. Your race won't be the same as your mom or dad's. Your race won't be the same as your best friend's. Your race won't be the same as anybody else because your race is your race. God has a unique purpose for your life and it won't be like anybody else so don't focus on his or her race or even what you think your race should be. Don't even compare the pace that others are running because I believe that, too, can distract you from running your race. Your job is to evaluate the path you are on with God, and assess whether or not you are running the race with perseverance that He has marked out for YOU. It is your job to take one step after the other. It is your job to run even when it is hard. And I encourage you to Never Give Up. I got this thing (see picture below) when I finished my teaching credentials and graduated from College because it reminded me of how I never gave up. God was my helper and I was able to receive what I needed to teach because of my perseverance and reliance on God.
"We are made to persist. That's how we find out who we are." Tobias Woloff