“Don’t give up!”
This was my mantra as I ran through the streets of Anaheim…13.1 miles.
I am not a “runner”. I don’t have a runner’s body and I have often thought of runners as a breed of crazy, super-humans, pushing their bodies to levels of insanity, yet six months ago I joined the crazy club of the running kind and stepped on a treadmill.
My girl friends and I had made the decision to run the Tinkerbell Half Marathon and, being a Paulsen, I never back down from a challenge. Fear swept over my body as I finished my first mile, but I was determined to beat the odds and run the race.
As I grew in strength and confidence, the miles crept higher and higher. Soon, I found myself waking up at 6:00am on Saturday mornings to run 11 miles around Tempe Town Lake. For the first time in years, I felt accomplished. I was finally the leading lady in the story of my life – driven and passionate. Those long runs at the lake gave me distraction-less hours to talk with God. As I wiped the sweat off my brow, my eyes were opened to God’s grace and beauty. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” (Phil. 4:13) became incredibly meaningful and I knew what it meant to follow Christ, even when my body and mind was completely drained.
Running a half marathon (or any race) opens the mind and puts things into perspective.
Every mile counts.
Every mile hurts.
Muscles cramp up, shoulders become tired and tense, and the mind begins to scream curses that the mouth would never utter, yet, in the chaos of a race, there’s peace in familiarity. You know what your body can handle. You’ve trained your muscles to endure. Nothing is new. The race is intense, but your training never fails and you finish.
Our spirituality is a race. This is why Paul says, “…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…” (Heb. 12:1b-2a). Our relationship with God can be intense and painful at times, but Jesus never said it would be easy. Instead, He tells us to be prepared. So, we train our minds and hearts to endure. When evil throws us curve balls of temptation, we know how to handle it because we’ve trained ourselves for this kind of endurance. Instead of giving in or giving up, we go on.
God is preparing our hearts and minds for something great! The love we have, found in His grace alone, is what gives us the motivation to move forward in faith. Without the simple salvation, the free gift, of Christ and His salvation, we have nothing, but with it, we gain everything.
Last weekend, I ran my half marathon and I finished! I can finally call myself a “runner”! I’m so incredibly proud of myself for sticking with my training plan, running my miles, and leaning on my fellow runners for support and encouragement when I didn’t think I was going to make it. While my race has come and gone, my walk with God remains. My training plan of faith are the pages in my Bible, my “quiet times” with God, and I’m blessed with the support and encouragement from my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
In times of discouragement and difficulty, remember that God is there…He’s running alongside you. Endurance takes time, but perseverance simply comes from the Creator who has called you to run the race marked out for you.