On Monday morning, I started running. I’m running with my sister and a friend. I found it much harder than I had anticipated, but that’s what I get for not doing anything active like this for 12 years. We went again this morning, and it was much better, though not necessarily easier.
I took the time today to look around me a little, and found myself eavesdropping on the conversations the aspens were having with the pines. I couldn’t resist reaching out, as I ran by, to shake their elfin hands.
Needless to say, this running gig I’ve decided to undertake involves some suffering. I can barely move this morning, my legs hurt so badly. Still, I know that if I push through this suffering, I’ll come out stronger in the end. I’ll come out ready to run – and finish – my first 5K. I know that if I suffer for a little while, the payoff will be incredible! It will not just be physical wellness, but emotional and mental health will be built up in me as well.
It will make me stronger, more fit to live my daily life with vigor and energy.
But, I have to do it all myself. I have to be the one to push through the soreness and early hours. I have to be the one to eat well and hydrate. I have to be the one to bring strength to the equation. Yes, I can rely on the Lord, but He’s not doing the running for me!
Yet, here in 1 Peter, I see something to the contrary.
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered for a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.”
~1 Peter 5:10 (NIV – emphasis mine)
I’m not just running physically. I’m also running a race, with sanctification as the finish line, and Heaven the prize.
I haven’t been running to win, lately. In fact, I’ve mostly been crawling along, looking no further ahead than what’s immediately in front of me. Sure, I can finish that way, but I’d rather be upright and strong when I cross that tape!
What a relief to know that God himself is taking on the work of bringing me to that point – that all I need to do is throw up my hands in surrender, and let Him pull me along.
Of course, I have my part to do, but equipping me is His job. The finishing work is His. I have only to obey, moment by moment. I have only to drink the water of the Word, to eat my daily bread, to do my daily work, to His glory, and He will make me strong, firm, and steadfast!
I have been trying to do that strengthening myself, and have utterly failed. I can only run on my finite supplies for so long, before I have to lay down, gasping for every breath.
I want to run the race that is set before me. I’m tired of crawling. So, while I work hard in the physical realm to train for a 5K, I think I’m going to start a spiritual Couch to 5K program in my life, allowing the Holy Spirit to give strength and firmness to my spiritual legs, so that I can keep them moving until I cross the line at death’s door, crying for joy at my victory!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
~Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)
Like the physical Couch to 5K, I’m starting small, and will be “working out” with my sister. We’ve agreed to encourage one another with what we’re reading, and to pray for each other.
Physically, it’s better all around to work out with someone else when I’m first starting out. It adds the elements of fellowship, friendly competition, and accountability that can keep me motivated far longer than if I were trying to run on my own. So it is spiritually. My sister and I are starting small, understanding that we are each responsible for our own fitness, but willing to cheer each other on and support each other in weak moments, just like we do when we’re physically running together.
The parallels are amazing. Though I’ve always been able to intellectually acknowledge them, they have become very real after only two real running sessions! It’s truly amazing what application can do for you. Kind of a “light bulb” moment for me this morning.
How do you think that verse in 1 Peter applies to you?
Grace & Peace,