Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Another proverbial race...or a completely different course

I am a few days from the starting line.  I have done the legwork.  I have run long lonely miles of training when the only ones who cheered me on were an occasional dog barking in the distance or a horse raising its head as I passed by.

There were days when training was a joy.  There were days when a run was the last thing I wanted to do.  There were days when I reminded myself not that I have to, but I get to.  Two and a half years ago, my days of running had come to an end, or so I thought, one race too much, concluding with an injury that didn't seem to go away, the end of a running adventure that lasted a decade at an impossible age and for a most improbable athlete.  I was thankful to God for what He had given.  It was time to move on to something else.

But God slowly brought healing about a year ago.   

And now, each run, I am thankful to God that I get to run again.

And on a lark, one warm afternoon last September, I signed up for another marathon.  

The marathon is this Sunday.  The training is done.  And as I have seen in the past and I see now again, the LORD saves, sustains, strengthens and changes me in the process.  On the outside, it appears as training for a race.  On the inside, it is training for life, that which sanctification looks like.  It is not just the discipline itself that transforms, but the wide open conversations with God that change me on those rough stretches of trail and ribbons of country asphalt roads when I can pray outloud, listen without distraction, and feel His indwelling taking over and rearranging my thoughts and attitudes like so many pieces of furniture.  I come back from a run, and I see things differently.  I am thirsty for Him.

A couple of weeks ago, at a small group supper, not even on a run, I felt a little twinge in my hip.  A tight muscle, perhaps, but it put a little wrinkle in my thoughts.  Do I finish this thing out.... or do I walk away from it?  Run through the pain like I did last time...or call it a day?

I know that I don't have to have an excuse to pull the plug on this marathon.  I don't have to prove anything.  I just need to be faithful to God.  He will work the rest.

I just want to make sure that I am not seeking the easy way out in this, nor make a decision out of fear or timidity, but to look to His way, to look on the other side, even in this, what seems so trivial, a few hours on a measured course.

I can hear one of our daughters saying, "Mom, don't overthink this."  I can hear one of the others saying, "Get a new hobby."  Our youngest said, "This doesn't have to be the last time."  And our other daughter just looks at me and asks, "Why wouldn't you want to?"

Am I asking for advice and prayer because I want someone else to make the decision for me?  Am I seeking God in this because I just don't want to make a mistake?  Decide for me, O LORD.

He doesn't work that way.

I have every reason to race this weekend.  I have every reason not to.  Guide me, O LORD, in this.

It seems a rather insignificant thing to ask God about.  But God reminds me, "Pray about everything."  (Philippians 4. 6)

And I realized this morning, whether I run this marathon or not, He may have prepared me through it for something else entirely.  "No effort is for naught," my grandmother used to say.  God doesn't waste anything done for His glory.

I realize that my seeking may have nothing at all to do about a marathon, but instead, coming to know a little bit more about God's faithfulness, a deeper relationship with Him, another dimension, another course for next week that I cannot possibly imagine.

I'll keep you posted.

since we are surrounded by
so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us also lay aside every weight
   and sin which clings so closely,
and let us run with perseverance
    the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus...

                      Hebrews 12. 1-2

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