Now where had I heard that before? Hmmm...
I am training for a marathon. I am not, nor have I ever considered myself a runner. The last time I ran was in high school. I wanted to run hurdles, but because I was one of the only ones who could run a mile, I was the long-distance runner. I hated it. I always came in last. It was not good for a teenage girl's self esteem. In fact, when the home track meet came closer, I quit the track team so that I could avoid the embarrassment of the entire school seeing me trudge in dead last in the race.
So why run a marathon? I was inspired! Why not work at accomplishing something that seemed impossible? After all, can't I do all things through Him who strengthens me? One of the things that I want to be is a positive role model for my children. And I want my boys to see, that with hard work and perseverance, you can accomplish anything. I want them to see the importance of staying fit and being healthy. And this seemed perfect. I don't have to go to a set class, I make my own hours, I don't have to rely on someone to push me, I can work on my own endurance mentally and physically. It has been great. I don't have a fast pace. But hey, I'm out there. I have gone farther than I thought I ever would. The longest distance I've ran all at once to date is 12.12 miles. Throughout the training so far, I have ran a total of over 100 miles. If someone would have told me that I would have accomplished that a year ago, I would have laughed hysterically as I was sitting on my couch and eating my whole bag of chips and guacamole with my 32 oz. of Diet Pepsi!
But look how far I've come already by the grace of the Lord! And you know what? I'm having fun. I'm moving forward. When things get hard, I just take one step at a time.
And now I more fully understand my faith race.
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25I thought this was about staying strong in your faith, keeping on the path and not straying away from the Lord. After all this training, I see that it means so much more. Paul goes on to say this:
Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim ; I box in such a way, as not beating the air ; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:26-27I've got to constantly be in training spiritually. Learning more about my faith, renewing myself in the Word daily, practicing my walk with the Lord, and fine tuning my stride so that I can be a better witness. I've gotta walk the walk. It's not good to be complacent in my faith. I should never think, "Everything is fine just the way it is." It's like that old adage, "If you don't use it, you loose it." I have to exercise my spiritual muscle. I've gotta live my life like I trained for it. I have a better understanding of what Paul was trying to convey. I get it now. All thanks to running.
So now, when I stumble during my runs, or in my spiritual life, I just think, "Just keep moving forward." I want to live my life in constant training, moving one foot in front of the other to gain endurance. Even if I have to crawl across the finish line, I'm not dropping out of this race! If I'm last, I'm going to raise my hands and praise the Lord that I finished, and He is the prize!
"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:1-3