One day in October I felt that God wanted me to start running… without music… and to pray and listen instead. It seemed like a terrible idea to me at the time and I procrastinated before actually trying it, but I am so glad that I did. God has shown me a lot though it…
I used to go on runs in high school during crew and then in college incrementally when I was on a work-out or weight-loss kick, but I never really enjoyed it. Actually, it felt as though my body was not built for it! Needless to say, when I felt this pull from God a few months ago I did not want to start up a habit of running… especially without music.
The first day I decided to try it out, God asked me to pray briefly then just listen for Him. I unashamedly admit that at the time I was having trouble understanding what ‘listening to God’ meant. So, I shut out all of my thoughts (OK, I actually spent almost the entire time telling myself to stop thinking). But then something unexpected happened! Each time I ran and did my best to shut down my thoughts, things became clear! I learned a lot about the life God wants for me in just a few short months.
- “Stay in your lane” – This is something that I had heard my small group leader say before. As I started to compare myself to other people or to the Pinterest running tips I had pinned, I was reminded that we are all in our own lanes. We each have gifts, experiences and personalities that affect our journey and the path that we are on should not be compared to others’. In a social media driven world, this can be extremely difficult. We have to remind ourselves to concentrate on our own lane.
- “Focus on God’s presence” – God is the definition of steady. He is the rock that we can rest on; the unchanging yet mysterious presence that we know is there even when we can’t feel it. He is there with us throughout everything – changing diapers, grocery shopping, vacuuming, commuting to work. When I started to allow myself to be fixated on the pain in my calf or my asthmatic angry lungs, I was reminded to focus on God’s presence. There are so many distractions that we face each day and we try to squeeze every last minute of our day to enhance productivity but often fail to take a moment to be still before God and rest in the grace that He offers. Our focal point has to be the steadiness of God if we are going to be able to stand firm in the midst of life swirling around us.
- “Find a balanced steady rhythm” and “Create a habit before you go faster”- In college my workouts were inconsistent and my lungs were not in great shape, but I would try and outrun both the men and women on the track. I was great at sprinting but could not find a pace that allowed me to run long distance. If I wasn’t going fast it felt to me like I wasn’t doing it right. If you know me at all, you know that this is very fitting to my personality. However I am learning to find a balance in all other aspects so figured running shouldn’t be any different. This time around, I decided to jog slowly… a 13 minute mile was perfectly acceptable! Those first two weeks I felt like Forest Gump if I made it through an entire mile. Starting slowly really helped me to find my own rhythm. Gradually I was able to run faster and longer. It reminded me to not let the flesh or the world throw us off balance, that we all have different rhythms in life that bring us peace and that we have to grow and mature before the capacity of God’s vision for our life can be revealed or truly lived out.