Thursday, June 02, 2011

Going the Distance

I had a really bad run last week.  Really bad.  Everything hurt.  I couldn’t hit my stride.  My legs just didn’t work.  It was miserable.

I’ve been at this training for three months.  I keep thinking I should get to the point where it feels great.  But my legs do not agree.

When I got home I was cold and sore.  I sulked about it.  I limped all day.  I wondered why on earth am I doing this?  Running stinks.  Getting up early stinks.  I was ready to throw in the towel.

My weekend long run loomed in the distance.  I ended up being sick and missing the opportunity to go with my friend.  I didn’t want to go.  I figured I couldn’t make it.  I was ready to give up before I even started.

I hate giving up.  But it is so easy to give up when things are hard.  We don’t like it and it doesn’t feel good so we walk away.  We limp.  We sulk.  I sometimes get angry and pretend that I don’t care.

But I do care.  I can’t run away or quit most of the challenges I face in life.  I think I am so conditioned in the bubble gum gospel that things should go great, be fun, be plentiful, be rosy that when things are hard or frustrating or hurtful I figure it’s not right. 

There are some parts of my life right now that are challenging me.  It’s a kind of hurt that is new to me.  I don’t like it.  And I don’t know if I have what it takes to go the distance.  I want to run away.  Or quit.  Or pretend I don’t care.

But do you know what I’ve discovered?  There is something worse than feeling like you can’t do something. That is not even trying.  That is worse. 

It feels way worse to give up and stay in bed instead of going for a run than even the most miserable, painful run.  Even in the pain, at least in the end, you know you did it.  You went for it.  Even if you didn’t achieve all you hoped, you achieved way more than sitting on the couch.

So Sunday after church, I got my shoes on and went.  The first mile was tough but after that it was fine.  I did all ten miles.  It wasn’t super fast.  It wasn’t pretty.  But I did it.  That is the longest I have ever gone.  Imagine what a bummer it would have been to miss that.

I’ve heard it said that successful people don’t always succeed, they just never quit.  They lace their shoes back up and hit the trail.  They get back out there. 

That is how you go the distance.  Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. 

Now if I don’t run the race I’m training for the world will not end.  The true test for going the distance is the things God has put into our lives that we need to deal with;  marriage, parenting, work, family, church.  Things can get ugly.  Things can get hard.  Things can get messy.

The thing is, I know I will be filled with regret if I give up.  Sunday’s run reinvigorated me to go the distance in the parts of my life outside running.  The more important parts.  Why?  Because God asks us to.  There is a lot of talk about suffering, perseverance, hope and finishing the race in the bible.  If I give up, it seems like I am ultimately not trusting Christ with what He has put into my life.  So I’ll keep loving, giving, sharing, helping, encouraging and forgiving until God moves me on.

Don’t sit this one out even if it’s hard.  Everyone fails.  Everyone falls.  But through God’s grace we can get up again and get back on the trail.  I was so encourage by reading Isaiah and Revelation today.  It gives me hope in the things to come.  God’s glory being revealed to all nations.  A day when God himself will wipe the tears from our eyes. 

That’s the prize that we are going the distance for.  God’s fame and renown.  And our joy and comfort. 

Don’t give up.  Go the distance.  I’ll limp along with you.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’”  Revelation 21:3-4

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  2 Peter 1:5-8


Peter and Nancy said...

I'll have to show this entry to my husband -- he's been training for a race in September, and is feeling his own pain. And congratulations on being the mother of a 6th-grade graduate!

Wayne Pederson said...

Brilliant, Michelle. Every runner knows exactly what you're talk about. Remember, the race is not to the swift, but those who keep on running.