On Your Mark:
The countdown is on. Only 81 days until I have committed to run a half marathon and let me just share one lesson I have learned…training is hard! When I mapped out how far 13.1 miles really was I was astounded! Building up the endurance for not only 13.1 miles but hours worth of running takes more than just physical endurance. It takes mental preparation as well. I love the caption on the picture to the left… “It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.” I have understood wanting to quit, but the feeling at the end finish line wipes away anything other than a divine sense of accomplishment.
My son has a shirt that says “Practice is hard. Four quarters are easy.” I understood what it meant but I never really got it. Until now. Practice and training aren’t fun. To most athletes they are just a means to an end. Good athletes are able to see practice as much more than that and while they may still hate it they understand that it isn’t just the best way, it is the ONLY way to build their endurance, improve their skills, and become competition ready. We are only as good as our practice.
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.” (Romans 5:3-5, NLT)
Living for God takes practice. To live the life He has called us to, we must work hard. Chances are one day you will wake up and find yourself running… running straight into the problems and trials mentioned above. During trials, God builds our endurance and character. In practice we strengthen our bodies, in times of trials we have the opportunity to strengthen our hope in Christ. Trials, again like practice, can also be long and difficult. We may even question if continuing to live for God through them is worth it. When I have found myself running with trials as my weighted companion I found myself unable to muster the energy from within to continue for very long on my own. With heartache, I have felt beyond exhaustion, my feet blistered and aching, gasping for air as my heart raced and all I wanted to do was to stop running. The little voice is saying “quit,” but that was when my training kicked in. This kind of training comes in the form of a relationship with God, digging into His word for nourishment, and spending time in prayer, communication with our Father, allowing Him to pour down endurance for us, physically and mentally, in order to continue on. Endurance doesn’t come without training.
I found the following on a sign and it struck a particular chord with me. See if you find it true in your life as well. Welcome to God’s Training Camp…
I asked for STRENGTH and God gave me DIFFICULTIES to make me strong.
I asked for WISDOM and God gave me PROBLEMS to solve.
I asked for PROSPERITY and God gave me BRAINS AND BRAWN to work.
I asked for COURAGE and God gave me DANGER to overcome.
I asked for LOVE and God gave me TROUBLED people to help.
I asked for FAVORS and God gave me OPPORTUNITIES.
I received NOTHING I wanted…I received EVERYTHING I needed.
And with the proper training, when you reach the finish line, no matter what the race may bring, exhilaration awaits!
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” (2 Timothy 4:7)