For many years I have had dreams at night of running. In these dreams I can hear the sound of my feet hitting the pavement and feel my muscles working, feel the wind in my hair and the sweat on my brow. I have never been a runner. I have always been happy getting my exercise being a walker. In fact every time I have tried to run, I have hated the whole experience and joked that I only ran if I was being chased. But strangely, when I woke up from these dreams I felt more spring in my step, felt a weight off my shoulders, a release from my daily worries, refreshed. I loved having these dreams, yet every time I would work up the nerve to try in real life, I felt like I was embarrassing myself in front of my neighbors-(the ones who peek out their windows). I ended up breathless and awkward, after only a few blocks, and resigned myself once again to the fact that I did not have what it took to be a runner and quit.
After finally weaning my fourth baby and getting my energy back from sleeping at night, I set out again to increase my walking routine, trying to get back into shape. On my walks I thought of these dreams. I started praying and asking God, “Do you want me to run?” Seems like a trivial thing to ask God, but I have learned that nothing is unimportant to him. “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” 1 Peter 5:7 I felt the desire to try again. So I set out, putting one foot in front of the other and swinging my arms, almost exaggeratedly trying to give myself more “oomph”. I focused on my breathing trying not to hyperventilate, was deliberate in my steps, all the while asking God to give me the strength and perseverance to keep going and not give up. Before I knew it I had made it a half a mile; much further than I had ever made it in the past. I pushed myself to make it just a little farther and then headed home, feeling like I had finally pushed through a roadblock that had been stopping me for too long.
One thing that God has had to continually work on in me is perseverance. I have been known to give up easily on things that prove to be too difficult. I even tried giving up on my marriage at one point until God took hold of me and let me know he wasn’t going to let me quit this time. I had made a commitment to my husband and to God and had since given birth to two children. I couldn’t teach them to give up too could I? It was through those difficult years of putting our marriage back together that I learned to lean on God’s strength and not my own. This was the same strength that was helping me learn to run. If God can put a marriage that was in the process of divorce back together, surely he can help me in the little details of my life.
I have now increased the distance I run up to 2 miles. I enjoy these runs now, look forward to them and make time to for them, yet there is not a time that I run that I am not reminded by my tired muscles and burning lungs to ask for God’s strength and perseverance. “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
If I think back to my first successful attempt at running, I realize that I have to be focused and deliberate in my steps at life, all the while depending on God’s strength. When I don’t, I end up breathless and awkward and I give up. “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 This is what Jesus did. If he had not been focused and deliberate in his work here on earth, we would all be doomed for destruction. It is only through his work on the cross that any of us has an invitation to heaven. That verse goes on to say “let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:2-3 We have to be focused on the author of life if we are to run the race of life. Only then will we win the prize of heaven. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24