Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Running Deep

For the past four months, I have been training for a marathon, keeping pace with an intentional schedule of running in rain or shine, heat or cold, in busyness and free time.  The training has gone on long enough that what I used to consider a "long" run has now become a "short" one.

The marathon is a week from Sunday.  And my right foot hurts.  Yesterday, I had to stop running and walk the last two miles home.

Despite any kind of wishful thinking, I may not be able to participate in this marathon.  But the race is still enough days away, that anything could happen.  My foot could mend enough to run. I just don't know.  Even as I am writing this, my foot is resting on an ice pack.  The verdict is still out.

"Oh,that's too bad," one friend told me this morning, as if to say, "Well, you sure wasted your summer by training for it."

But as my late dear grandmother always told me, "No effort is for naught."  God doesn't waste anything.  He will use it all  -- even in ways we may not comprehend.  That strong pioneering woman saved every scrap of fabric and string, could assemble a meal for our large family out of a few oddities in our fridge, and hobbled around on arthritic legs for 45 years, long before anyone had ever thought of knee replacements.  I believe her, because I saw her live it out before me.

Throughout my ten-year adventure in running, I have been very aware of the tentative nature of this sport.  As I set out on just about every training run or race, I know it could very well be my last, not in a dismal kind of mindset, but oddly aware of a fragile gift, a great joy in running -- don't just do it, enjoy it completely.  The reality is that someday I may not be able, but today, I can run through cathedrals of trees singing praise songs (sometimes OUT LOUD), drinking in the beauty of God's incredible creation and rejoicing with my feet.  

"But today..."  That is the opportunity God places on my path.

Prepare as God leads you, pursue, and work with all excellence.   It may be for something not even on your radar yet.  He may use you in ways far deeper than you can ever know.  Faithfulness looks like that.  It is a seeking that goes beyond an accomplishment, an event, or a destination.  It is seeking Him, above all else, no matter what appears on the surface.  His purposes always run deeper than what we are aware.

Whether I am able to run this marathon or not, I know that God will use this training, if only to know Him more.  And that far exceeds what any race can do.

My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
           and my portion for ever.

                      Psalm 73.26

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