People often tell me how much they love running. They describe the runner’s high they experience when running turns into an out of body experience. They get lost in their run, not really focusing on anything and being so caught in the moment that the time flies by.
I have been running fairly regularly for a few months and I finally understand what all those people were talking about.
Just kidding. Those people are liars and running is still terrible.
Granted I don’t dread running as much as I did before, but I don’t know if I’ve ever enjoyed the experience. I’ve definitely never felt a runner’s high and I am very much aware of my body while running. I feel each labored breath and the pain that shoots through my hip sometimes. Also, time never flies by when I’m running; I’m always just waiting for the end. Sometimes the only thing that keeps me going during my run is knowing that each step brings me closer to the end.
In spite of my pure disdain for running, I keep lacing up my New Balances and hitting the pavement. The only thing that keeps me persevering is the knowledge that running is good for me and part of a healthy lifestyle. If I could burn as many calories taking a nap or watching paint dry, I would much rather participate in those activities.
So it really makes sense that writers of the New Testament equated following Jesus to running a race. I’ve never run in a race, but I sort of understand the concept now that I run five or six times a week. There are plenty of days when I wake up and don’t want to go running; I pretty much have to will myself to put on shoes and get out there. There are also plenty of days when I start my run and think about giving up; before I make it halfway it still makes sense to turn around.
Following Jesus is a lot like that. There are some days when I don’t want to get out of bed to go running or spend time with Jesus. My bed is so comfy and the snooze button is so inviting. It’s also easy to want to give up on following Jesus. We think to ourselves that we’ll do better tomorrow or that we just don’t have it in us today to give him everything we’ve got.
As someone who could barely run the mile in high school, though, I know it’s not impossible. In running all I have to go on is my own strength of will and desire to be healthier. When following Jesus, though, we have so much more.
The Holy Spirit literally lives inside of us and empowers us to be more like Jesus. The power the raised Christ from the dead lives in us and, even when we want to give up, that power will help us keep moving forward, one foot in front of the other.
Philippians 1:6 is one of the most encouraging verses in the Bible:
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Jesus is going to finish the work he started. We just need to faithfully lace up our shoes and get running.
What helps you keep running the race?