Thursday, October 1, 2009

God on the Greenway: Decisions

Before every run, there is a moment of evaluation. It’s a determination point. How far/long will I run? What is my pain level today? What am I capable of doing today? The answers to these questions shape what success I have on that particular run. The numbers my heart-rate monitor reflect in the end are the result of the decisions made before and during the journey.

The one thing that I can tell you with certainty is that regardless of how far or how long I run, there is one decision that stays the same: “I will do my best.” Sometimes, my best is 30 minutes on a busy or pain-filled day. Other times, it’s above and beyond that. My “best” can vary from day to day because every day is different. Though, my best is my best as long as I am giving it all I can. More and more, I compare my “bests” less and less because there is no comparison or competition (even against myself). As Aslan said to Lucy in Narnia, “Nothing happens the same way twice.”

Those were some of the things I was thinking of a couple weeks ago as I went for a run. I was wondering what my “best” would be like. The previous night, I had done a Turbo Jam video that I hadn’t done in a while and so I was feeling extremely sore. My back was feeling it the worst. So, when I pondered my plan of action on the Greenway, I started thinking about all the factors at hand. Time, I had. The pain….yeah, I had that too. The day - absolutely beautiful!! Clearly, my only obstacle was physical. I could definitely run four miles, but it was up to my body to cooperate. I prayed and thought out the possible ways that it could go. I could run one mile down and run one mile back. Or, I could run all the way down (2 miles) and then walk 2 back if my pain was truly bad. I wasn’t clearly decided on which option I would end up doing, but decided that when I approached the one mile marker, I would have a better idea of what I would do. Sometimes, you are absolutely certain about your objective and sometimes you’re not. When you’re not, baby steps will do.

As I began my run, I was taken in by the beauty of God’s creation as well as the great weather He had blessed me with. It was further enhanced by the Narnia soundtrack that I was listening to on my iPod (as I often do on the Greenway - it’s beautiful and peaceful music!). The more I ran, the more I enjoyed my surroundings and realized, I didn’t want to be done in just two miles - no matter how much it hurt. So, I knew that turning around at the one mile marker wasn’t happening (especially since I had plenty of time and I desperately needed to take advantage of it and burn as many calories as possible).

The next decision was whether I would turn around and run back two more miles or walk the last two? Without much thought, I decided on the first option. God had somehow numbed the pain in my back (or maybe it was the sports cream I used lol) and so I kept going. Even though my hips were what was feeling it the most (which is usually the case) I wanted to give until I couldn’t give anymore. I didn’t want to wimp out and walk if I didn’t have to yet.

As I reached the last mile or so of the journey, I almost wanted to quit. But, as often happens, I thought: “DON’T YOU DARE QUIT! NOT WHEN YOU’RE THIS CLOSE!” Not only that, but what business do I have quitting and saying “I can’t” when Christ tells me “YOU CAN!” (Philippians 4:13). Am I going to let Satan cut in on me while I’m running a good race (Galatians 5:7)? Absolutely not!! His pathetic attempts to get me to quit do NOT work (and he should know that by now but he still tries! He‘s just as stubborn as I am! LOL!).

Knowing that I would reach the end of my four miles in under 60 minutes, I resolved that that wouldn’t be the end. I WANTED that full hour! I wasn’t going to quit; even though I had gotten my four. So, I started running around the round-about at the end of the Greenway for those last 10 minutes or so. Sometimes, I feel silly doing that (yes, I have done it before!). You know what though? It IS silly! That is, if that’s all you EVER do! Some of us are on a round-about our whole lives and we never run the real thing because we are afraid to take a risk. We are afraid that we will stop and turn back or that we won’t make it. We are afraid of the unknowns and of so many variables. We are afraid; so very afraid! So, fear keeps us running in circles. But, at least it’s comfortable right? After all, we can stop doing that at any time and not have to worry about being stranded on the road we should have taken. Running circles in your own backyard is a lot safer than running down the street and back. However, do you really go anywhere? Why be like Will in “Good Will Hunting” and waste our time and talent just because of fear? In his particular case, a mind really was a beautiful thing that he was wasting. He was on a round-about; never stepping beyond the comfort of his own backyard. He was comfortable not taking risks because fear and pain told him that he shouldn’t. He wasted a long time believing that lie - and his friends knew it too. One of his buddies told him that he was sitting on a winning lottery ticket and was refusing to cash it in.

All these lessons were swimming through my mind as I finished up my run. I MADE IT! Sixty minutes and 800 calories! My pain was REALLY bad and yet, I did it! More importantly, HE did it. HE accomplished it in me! I didn’t do this on MY strength because truthfully, I had none!

You know what the icing on the cake is? It’s the fact that so many would probably think running four miles is a hellish nightmare and yet, I had run to hell and back lol. WHY would I do that? It’s because I know there is a reward at the finish line; cold water to drink and a hot shower. I will run the race and through Christ, go through hell and back because His blood already ensures that victory is mine and that I will cross that finish line and win! So, why give up? I got a reward waiting for me if I persevere (2 Chronicles 15:7, Hebrews 10:36, James 1:12).

This run caused me to think on my life and the race that I am running. Who or what am I letting cut in on me? Will I give up? What RIGHT do I have to give up when I have Christ saying that I can do it? Also, in what areas do I need to stop running in circles and take a risk? What fears do I need to surrender so that I don’t waste sitting on the winning lottery ticket? I don’t want to waste my mind, my life, and the talents He has blessed me with. Furthermore, I don’t want to cheat myself out of the rewards and blessings that God has for me. It’s clear. More often than not, the one cutting in on the race is “self.”

Grace and peace to all of you!! Keep running the race!! Persevere and be determined. Let no one (neither Satan, yourself, or others) cut in on you!! May you all have the courage to say that you “can” because HE says “you can!” I pray that you can get off any round-about in your life, surrender your fear, and start journeying towards your destination; knowing that even after you have gone through the best and the worst, there is water to quench your thirst and a hot shower to ease your pain! It’s all worth it! You will be replenished, restored, and rewarded in the end!! God bless you all!!

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