This past December I did something I never thought I would really do; The St. Jude Half Marathon. I always said I would do it, but I never really thought I would. It was one of those things on my bucket list, that off the past four years or so I kept wanting to signup, but I never hit that submit button. Well last summer I decided enough was enough and I clicked submit. I not only registered for the race, but I registered as a St. Jude Hero, which meant I committed to raising xamount of money.
Running for me was something I really grew to enjoy back in college. But it wasn’t always something that I loved to do, there are days even now where I have to force myself to go. But I knew that if I wanted to increase my speed and distance I needed to do it.
When I first started running I would create small goals: I would choose landmarks that I would run too, and then I would allow my self to walk to the next landmark. Overtime the distance between the two landmarks increased and I started to feel like I was superwoman. But there were definite times where it was hard and it took everything in me to put on those running shoes. Running, like any physical activity, is a mental game.
I remember one time specifically, it wasn’t long after my dad had passed. In dealing with the grief I had taken a break from running. But one afternoon I just needed to get out of the house and run. In the middle of my run I just broke down.
And I said “I can’t do this, I just can’t do this” and I just started crying out to God. And at that moment two things happened: two deer ran across the path right in front of me. I remember it just looking so graceful. Peaceful. It was effortless.
I just felt this sense of calm wash over me. Comfort.
And second was this verse is that came to my heart:
I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me
I say heart because it wasn’t like someone was speaking inside of my head, but more like my heart was being filled with strength and comfort. At the time I was still building my relationship with Christ, I was still learning to lean on Him and obey Him.
So for me this is a pivotal moment in my testimony. But that’s for another day.
In that moment I received all that I needed to finish my run. I didn’t stop. I didn’t race. I just steadily kept running and I kept repeating that verse to myself.
From that moment every time I ran, I would carry that verse with me. Running started to become my “quiet time” with the Lord. I found myself getting lost in prayer and reflection. I find myself not only becoming stronger physically, but also in my faith. It became my time where there was no one else around to intrude on my thoughts or distract me from the Lord, it was just us two.
I don’t think I really learned to “love” running, it was more I began loving that time with God. I loved what happened when I was running, the thoughts, talks, prayers, etc. I think when I first started running I was doing it to sort of just “escape”, (and of course to become fit). But once I started devoting that time for God, I truly began to see change.
As I said earlier, running is a mental game. Any physical activity is a mental game. It’s easy to just give up, only give 50% of your best effort, or just climb halfway up the mountain instead reaching the top.
But you can’t let the hard turns, the pains, and self doubt keep you from the end goal. You can’t let it hold you back. You can’t let you hold yourself back. I realized after I completed that half marathon how much we can truly accomplish when we don’t give up or take the short cut. Crossing that finish line was one of the most exhilarating moments I’ve experienced. We can do so much more than we think, but it’s our thoughts that hold us back. It’s our lack of faith, trust, and discipline that keep us focused and accomplishing what we set out to do.
We can’t take a short cut during a half marathon, and there are no short cuts for salvation. You can accomplish your goals. It’s not going to be easy, you may trip, and you might want to give up. But you have to keep going. The Lord doesn’t give us more than we can handle. And if we have faith and trust in Him, we can and will accomplish what we set out to do. We will reach that finish line.