Tuesday, April 03, 2007

running the race

about 6 weeks ago, I started running. I've started and stopped many times before, but this time I've managed to stick with it long enough to start building some endurance and enjoying it.

I'm following a training schedule that's supposed to prep someone who's never run before to run a 5k in 3 months or less. A 5k seems like a good first goal.
The first few weeks started out pretty slowly and it wasn't too tough. But a couple weeks ago, the training started getting hard as times and distances increased dramatically. In fact, they doubled.
As I was running these longer distances, I began thinking about the Apostle Paul's charge to fellow believers "run the race...". Because the times and distances that I'm running have increased so quickly, I've noticed that there's a definite difference in how I approach running a short distance as opposed to a longer distance. When I'm running a short distance that I know I can handle, I run faster, and I pay a lot less attention to my form and my breathing. But when it comes time for long distances, my approach is completely different. My pace is slower. My breathing is deliberate. And I'm careful to maintain good form. All these are necessary or I get tired too quickly and am sometimes unable to run as long as I'm supposed to.

It's caused me to stop and consider what it means for me to run my race of faith at a pace that will allow me to run for the rest of my life. It's a delicate balance, I think. On the one hand, if I run too quickly, I'll "burn out". On the other hand, if I run too slowly, I won't be forced to stretch. My endurance won't increase, and I won't get any stronger.

Paul told us to "run the race" of faith in such a way that we "win the prize". But I think, more often than not, we don't run with the whole race in mind, but only our current leg. We sprint, eager to reach the finish line, but then we burn out before we even begin the final leg of the race.

I think the right pace is slower than most of us are used to, especially in Western culture. I think we like to believe that if we don't do it all now, it's not going to get done. We think that having a panicked sense of urgency is noble and shows how much we care. But I don't think God has a sense of urgency about things. I think He knows just how and when things are going to happen.

And I often wonder if Jesus felt a sense of urgency. He was certainly far more sensitive to the hurts and the darkness of this world than we will ever be. But did He feel anxious? Did He feel like He could never stop to take a break? I don't think He did. There are so many passages that refer to Jesus spending time alone praying or retreating somewhere to be alone. Maybe He knew that He wasn't supposed to "do it all". Maybe He knew that, even though He was the Son of God, He couldn't do it all. And if He couldn't, why would I think that I could? And moreover, why would I try?


Anonymous Cheryl said...

Something I have heard being said lately is that God has all the time in the world. I tend to feel like I have to do it all now or it won't get done all the time, and I definitely wear myself out. Or get overwhelmed just thinking about it and don't even start, which is worse. I have to learn to let myself rest without feeling guilty and calling myself lazy.

6:15 PM  

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