I love Fall – the smells, the pumpkin flavored everything, the colors, and most of all, the weather. I spend ninety percent of the calendar year longing for those rare, crisp, cool mornings. The ones when I can lace up my running shoes and hit the pavement and not sweat so much! The reprieve from the heat always gets me excited about exercising, which is great timing with the approaching holiday yumminess! So you can imagine how much I always look forward to the forecast of the official first week of Fall in Texas! But this morning, instead of wanting to put my tennis shoes on, I found myself buying a ticket for the struggle-bus. Not any part of me wanted to go for a run.
I’ve completed a few half marathons in my life and will be participating in another one in just a matter of weeks. Running any distance, especially 13.1 miles or more, does not go smoothly without proper training. So what happens when a runner doesn’t want to run?
You make yourself do it anyway.
I decided to refund my struggle-bus ticket, say a prayer for motivation, and load up my 3 year old into the jogging stroller because, like it or not, I’ve got to train. What happened next was quite an “Ah-ha” moment for me.
You see, part of my reason for exercising is that I have a familial high cholesterol working against me so it is very important for my heart health that I stay active. While on the run, I started remembering this. I am doing this today not because I love running this very moment, although most of the time I do, but today’s motivation is a deeper one: A healthy heart, which in turn will lead to a more fruitful life here on Earth with my family. As the miles passed, I also experienced more clarity of mind and less weight of all the chores I was choosing to put on hold for a bit.
Then something else happened. God showed me how this lesson about running is so much like my time in reading The Bible. Most of the time, I love to read The Word of God. I love how it reveals who my Lord is more and more, and also who I am in Him. But to be honest, there are some days I struggle with wanting to spend time reading it. I just don’t want to pick it up. Just like I didn’t want to put on my shoes this morning. But I also know that after I spend those moments reading the Scriptures, it always leave better off than I was before. The strength of my heart is restored for whatever challenges the day may bring, and my mind is more fixed on Him which gives perspective to everything else going on the world.
Nothing Comes from Nothing.
Not wanting to run every day does not mean I am not an athlete, and not wanting to read my Bible every day does not mean I am less of a Christian for it. The fact is, sometimes we have to make ourselves do things, even when we don’t feel like it. Not to check a box, but to discipline ourselves and prepare for greater things. Nothing comes from nothing, and we can’t expect it to. We are active participants in this life and it requires us to take action, even in times of feeling stuck or unmotivated.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
And if we don’t train, we can’t expect to perform well in the race. It just won’t happen. This is quite important to talk about since we are all actually running a race right now! Hebrews 12 addresses how we can each run our best race of our lives! Let’s take a look:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Why are there so many analogies in the Bible between living life and running a race? Maybe because in both, there is a starting point and a finish line. Maybe because it is not always fun and the terrain is sometimes rocky and challenging. Or maybe to remind us to look at how Jesus ran his race during his time on earth and train like him until we reach our own finish lines.
Whatever it is, may I challenge you to pick up your Bible on those days when you just don’t feel like it? Maybe it’s been a couple of hot seasons since you have flipped through those pages. It may even start with just a verse. But just like taking those first steps to train for a race, letting the Spirit begin to move in you as you read through The Word will bring a refreshing in your heart and mind. There’s no better time to start training than today!
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