Life, Faith & Running
". . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
Approaching the start line, I was bogged down with the weight of extra layers in a futile attempt to stay dry as long as possible.The temps hovered around 36 degrees fahrenheit. The wind was 26 miles per hour, straight into our faces. The rain was relentlessly steady. This trifecta of less than ideal conditions offered plenty of excuses to give up hope. To give into lowered expectations. To hangup dreams of a “good race” to the finish line.
And yet, when my feet crossed the start line, my head, heart, and body were pointed in one direction. There was no other option than to start the 26.2 mile course from Hopkinon to Boston with hope that the finish line and I would meet regardless of the circumstances. The coming miles would not be covered in ease but my determination to cover them would not be thwarted. I had trained too hard to let that happen, setting me on course for hope to win!
Literally, hundreds of miles had been run in preparation for this race. Training plans for the Boston marathon are no joke. What I didn’t realize about my training (until it was put to the test on one of the worst combos of race conditions)is that it would provide me not just the physical strength to endure, but the emotional, mental spiritual muscles to run with confident hope toward a finish line I knew was there waiting for me.
Gusts of wind swayed my body every so slightly, while the rain penetrated every centimeter of my clothing. My feet sloshed around in my shoes. Attempting some reprieve, I would tuck behind other runners whenever possible. All of this should have discouraged me, slowed me down and given me permission to take it easy.
But that isn’t what happened. Instead, grace, strength, hope and clarity of purpose became stronger. My focus on the finish line that day was sharper and more consistent than any other race I have run. It was as if the daunting circumstances pressing against me from the left and the right steadied my eyes and determination to only be able to point forward. There was no room for distractions.
I had to rely on my training to get me through. I had to believe that because my body had run 26.2 miles before, it could do it again. I had to believe that my muscles knew what to do and would take me there if my mind let them. My mantra from mile 22 on was, “Let your legs carry in. They know what to do. Let your legs carry you in.” I had a choice to make with each mile: trust in the hope that I could make it to the finish line with the strength gained in training, or believe the lie that I couldn’t.
What I discovered is that it was actually hard to believe the lie because there were so many memories in my mind of finishing strong. My training miles and races from the past had built into my brain evidences to support the truth of who I am, what I can endure, and what I can accomplish. Because of the courses my muscles and mind experienced in the past, there was only room for hope, confidence and truth.
So too with our race of faith toward the finish line awaiting us beyond this side of heaven. This one life we have is full of courses that put our soul, heart and mind to the test. When we sign up for the Christian race of faith, we get to submit to the training plans outlined for us in the Bible.
And we start running. Some days are “easy” training days. Other days are “slow” and long. And some days feel like racing into the wind and the rain. And what gets us through those really hard days?
I believe it is setting the course for hope to win by training your soul, heart and mind to believe you have what it takes to run the race marked out for you (Hebrews 12). This isn’t a one-time activity you check of a list. Instead, it is built on season upon season of choosing to train you soul, heart and mind to know, believe and live out the commands and truths (training plan) recorded in the Bible.
For example, taking every thought captive and turning it over to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5) becomes a habit that trains your soul, heart and mind toward hope. The more you train your mind in this manner, the stronger you spiritual muscles grow and the greater confidence you have in the hope you profess because you have memories (evidences) that support truth that can weed out the memories that might try to support lies.
For me, my physical training has had amazing and powerful impacts on my spiritual journey. I find that when I train my body to endure challenging circumstances, I learn how to apply those same tactics to fighting for faith, hope and truth to win. Setting the course for hope to win against doubt and giving up begins with submitting to the training plans provided in Scripture. And then choosing to run courses that require you to use confident hope to run toward God’s purposes and plans for now and eternity. It’s believing there is a finish line, and that you are designed to run full-on toward it.
Questions for Reflection & Application:
Her family and friends know her as, Jaci. She is the wife of a pastor, a mom of four, writing and communications education instructor, a visionary and an avid runner. As a firm believer in the power and effectiveness of the body of Christ united together to live out the Great Commission, she holds fast to this verse, "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). Of equal importance to her are these words, "...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).
Posts in the Run for Your Life, series: