Like I said, this is my default. This is where I instinctively begin. Only Christ has the power to go into my "control panel" and alter that setting.
So, it would be to no surprise, that as I have been training for an upcoming half-marathon, I would begin to seek out easier running routes. There are SO many hills in and around my neighborhood. It's grueling. It's tiresome. Feeling fatigued one morning, I set out to run, but this time I went to an outdoor track.
Ah, no hills... just stay in the lines and run the circle.. no thinking.... easy.
..so I thought.
As I got only about a half mile into my run, I felt nearly paralyzed. It was torture! The same thing over and over. Nothing new. Just round and round. There was no shade. The sun beat down hard. Equal distance each time... ground equally leveled. The minutes couldn't have moved any slower. I almost quit!
While I agonized, Christ moved in and did a little work on my settings.
I so often have such a misplaced ideal. I think easy and predictable is the goal. If life were only less chaotic. No surprise detours. No muddy patches. No ups and downs. No rain. Or wind. Just give me round and round.. level ground within the confines of a perfectly erected arena... life would work. Then I could keep running.. and I could run well! But it's in the hills that builds strength in our muscles. We acquire the stamina to continue longer.. run further. The gentle downward slopes allow us rest and recovery. The twist and turns of unknown terrain provide motivation to continue on... to see what's around the corner. The track makes me want to quit. I see where I'm going. I see I'm accomplishing nothing in particular, but filling time and adding miles. So many people live life running the track. Life is the race and we are His athletes. How are you training?
There is so much beauty in the work; in the preparation. Our race is longer than 13.1 miles. It is ongoing. But we have a Coach who is interceding ALWAYS on our behalf.. who has designed a training program specifically for each one of our needs so we may run our best and finish well. He is building into our program faith strengthening climbs, recovery slopes, hope distances. Where there is rain... He is on the sidelines extending to us a poncho. Where we are dry.. He is bringing cups of water. Where we are weak... He provides the Powerbar. And HE IS WAITING FOR US AT THE FINISH LINE!
I left that track as fast as I could. I ran the park. With each hill I trudged, I thanked the Lord for the hardships in my life...because I was still running... because I am stronger because of them...because HE is the strongest over all. Quit? Never. Not now. I don't want predictable and easy. Predictability paralyzes. It's the hard stuff that keeps us running.
Give me the hills! My body is better for it. My soul is strengthened by it.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us,
let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us,
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith,
who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame,
and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.