I'm not sure I can call myself a runner with a straight face, but I do try to jog at least 3 times a week. As I jog, there are things that pop into my mind that have physical as well as spiritual impact on my life. Here are a few:
1. I see that sometimes when I jog I will face a small hill and if I make too big of a deal of it, it is harder than it needs to be. I psych myself out and then the running is tough.
That is also true in other areas of life. I may worry about things that will never happen. I may attribute wrong motives to someone that simply don't exist. Sometimes just by activity in my own mind, I allow mole hills to become mountains. The result is a heaviness of spirit that keeps me from thriving in Christ.
2. And then sometimes the opposite is true. There is one hill that I run that has kicked my butt. I started it too fast and burnt out before half way. Wheezing and on the verge of puking - not a pretty sight.
There have also been times in my life when I have faced rough patches. Through those experiences, I have begun to learn that during seasons of high stress, illness, relational difficulty, it is important to pace myself. It's important to realize that things in life can drain our emotional energy. If we are going to survive and finish well, we must take whatever time we need to rest and allow God to restore us to himself.
3. Encouragement is vital. My friend, Becky, is the BEST running encourager I know. When we see each other she always asks how it's going and is always so genuinely proud of me. In turn, it keeps me going and makes me want to encourage others.
The same is true in our walks with Christ. All of us can benefit from receiving as well as giving encouragement. And you never know what impact your words of encouragement might be to someone. It just may be the thing that keeps them going.
4. The last thing I've been thinking about lately is how important it is to enjoy the run. Some days I forget to do that and I just want to be done. I listen to a song over and over, just waiting to get to the finish. But there was a day a few weeks ago that helped me learn this lesson. It was raining, but I really wanted to get out there. I had decided that I shouldn't take my ipod - it wasn't worth the risk. But I had NEVER done this run or any other run without music to keep me going. I had a great time! I noticed things about my town that I hadn't noticed before and I was enjoying God's creation in a very unique way.
Sometimes it's hard to transfer this lesson. There is always so much to be done, so many unfinished projects. It makes me think of my friend, Teresa, who is SOOO good at this. She always says it's important to put in a hard day's work (and she is one of the most tireless workers I know), but she says it is equally important to have fun. She taught me to get cleaned up and spend time with friends or do something fun to balance out the day. It's a good lesson I continue to learn.