I’m not a very good runner. I’ll just say that up front. And I’m even worse at races than I am at running around in the mornings. This past Saturday, my husband and I ran the Evansville River Run. It’s a ten-mile race starting in Henderson, Kentucky, crossing the Ohio River bridge and finishing in Evansville, Indiana. Talk about a learning experience … And all of the lessons apply to the race I’m running in my Christian life.
1. You think you’re prepared…
Training runs are a whole different ballgame from a race. The course was hillier than I was used to. I overdressed. (That was a calculated risk. I hate, hate being cold.) Running by the highway is mentally fatiguing.
We often think that after a weekly church service, we’re prepared for whatever gets thrown at us, but we’re often surprised by circumstances. Situations often prove more challenging than we imagined and we discover that theory and life are two different things. We need to make sure we are relying on God in humility and not trusting ourselves.
2. I started strong and finished strong. The middle … not so much.
Through the first six miles I was on pace to do better than any of my training runs. Then reality struck. And by reality, I mean pain. Everything hurt except for my hair and my eyebrows. And my hair was close. I chose to ease off on my pace and finish well rather than risk a real injury. My last 400m was my fastest all day.
We usually start out really strong, really gung-ho for Jesus, but somewhere in the middle of things we run into some painful times. It is extremely important to back off and give yourself time to rest and heal so you can stay in the race and finish strong.
3. Having folks cheer you on is awesome.
I have no idea who most of them were but it was a little easier to run with some encouragement, especially from the little guy who high-fived me toward the end and my son and a really good friend near the finish.
We really underestimate the value of encouragement in the body of Christ. It can help prevent burning out, dropping out and falling out. Let’s resolve not to be so stingy with it.
4. Having someone come along beside to run with you is even awesome-r.
My husband finished forty minutes before I did, but he came back and met me at mile 9 and finished with me. I told him everything hurt. He reminded me that my pace wasn’t bad, that in twelve more minutes we’d be done, that the finish wasn’t nearly as far away as it looked, that he was proud of me … all kinds of good stuff.
We not only have fellow believers to come alongside us, but God Himself is right there in the person of the Holy Spirit offering guidance and encouragement.
5. The effects last way beyond the race.
The race was Saturday. It was Tuesday before I could walk down steps without turning sideways.
Make no mistake, the things we do in this life will have an impact on eternity.
6. Finishing is what counts.
Oh, sure the guy who won finished in less than half the time that I did, but you know what? I got the very same medal they got. All the finishers did.
There is coming a day when we will each cross a finish line a receive a reward. I haven’t seen it, but I’m pretty sure it’s a lot better than a medal.
Have you done something that stretched you? What lessons did you learn?