September 26, 2008

Running the Race — Part 2

In case you’ve been wondering...I did it. Yesterday’s spin class went much better than last week’s. I arrived only five minutes late and didn’t feel like I needed CPR when it was over. I’m making progress!

That’s the thing with fitness. We have to work at it to achieve it and keep working to maintain it. It doesn’t matter how much we spend on fancy footwear, exercise equipment or gym memberships, we might feel better for having them, but if they remain unused we’re no fitter than when we started. And no amount of positive affirmations can change that fact.

For the last several months I’ve been inspired by my friend Susan at Runner Mom. Susan’s a trail runner. Susan doesn’t just talk about loving to run or wanting to run. She runs. A lot. She even makes it seem like fun. Currently she’s training for the San Antonio triathlon. (You go, girl!) Her eyes are fixed on her goal and every day she works toward achieving it.

Do you know each of us is in training for a race? Hebrews 12:1-3 sets the scene:

“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Before I went to the gym class last week, I thought I was in decent shape. The spin class showed me otherwise. Likewise the Bible offers an examination of our souls that reveals our true condition: we’re spiritually out-of-shape. Inside we might feel like we’re a pretty good and moral person.

But goodness is not the goal. Godliness is.

What holds us back is sin. And no amount of effort on our parts can rid it from our lives. Only Jesus can.

Yes, the journey is difficult. We often lose track of the course marked out for us and run one of our own making. We get distracted by the day-to-day, bogged down with worries, lulled into complacency, satisfied with mediocrity and ensnared by the world. But in the pages of God’s word we find a training manual to teach us and a coach to guide us.

To reach the finish line we must run the race. No one else can do it for us. Just like I made a choice to go to the gym, every day we make choices to train or not. Will we attend Sunday worship? Will we pray, participate in a Bible study or read the Bible? Will we encourage a fellow believer, reach out to someone in need or offer forgiveness? Will we choose our way or God’s?

We don’t need to work to achieve our salvation; in fact there is nothing we can do to earn it. But when we become believers, just like my friend Susan we’re training for a long distance race that requires determination, focus and perseverance. Our spiritual muscles go flabby if we don’t keep them fit.

Isn’t it awesome we don’t have to go it alone? Through our brothers and sisters in Christ, God gives us training partners who encourage us, cheer us on, offer a hand up when we’re down, guide us, hold us accountable, refresh our spirits and make the journey much more fun.

I know the training partners God has blessed me with are the sweetest part of my journey so far. Thank you for being there!

Together let us throw off everything that gets in our way, let us run with perseverance and let us fix our eyes on Jesus.

I hope these passages from The Message give you the shot of adrenaline you need today:

“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Hebrews 12:1-3)

8 comments:

Smith Fam said...

YOU go, girl! Aaaahhh....I need to get in shape again, too. No more jiggles! LOL! :-)

How's the writing goal coming post conference? We just moved into a new home -- quite a saga -- so I've been detoured, but needing to get back at it. :-)

Steph

Runner Mom said...

Hey, girlfriend! Your comments were too kind, bless your heart! Just one little correction. I'm just training for a marathon, not a triathlon. I do NOT swim--I get way too much water up my nose!!! Not a pretty sight! But I am SO proud that you are back in the cycle again!!! You keep at it, Kelligirl!!Woohoo!

I loved this part of your post, "Our spiritual muscles go flabby if we don’t keep them fit." That is so true! One of my spriritual goals has been to really stay in His Word--not just for Bible studies, but for me! An, I am loving what He is showing me. I like that kind of exercise :)

Love ya,
Susan

Cheryl Barker said...

Kelli, when you said, "Susan doesn’t just talk about loving to run or wanting to run. She runs. A lot.", I saw a real lesson for us as writers. We need to make sure we are writing -- not just talking about it or reading helps about it, etc. Sometimes it can be hard to find a balance because it's all important. More hours in the day might help, huh? :)

Joy in The Truth (Sharon Sloan) said...

Hi, Kelli!

How funny I am reading this today. Oh, how I wish I could run the physical race. Just this morning, my hubby and I went to a long-awaited appt with an ortho a PA Hospital for my knee injury. He is the cream of the crop and was the ortho surg for the Eagles. (My pastor's family referred me to him.)

Well, I felt very out of place in the examination room surrounded by autographed pix of professional athletes who have been treated by the doc. I laughed as I told him, unless he counts cheerleading as a sport (back in the day when it wasn't a sport like it is now!), I am not an athlete. A great cheerleader now for my kids, but never an athlete. While I love exercise, I have not been routinely disciplined in it. I go in spurts.

(I am sure I'll be posting about today's visit to the doc...it was memorable!)

Reading your post makes me want to run! Physically run! But my knee and impending surgery will just have me cheer y'all on! While I admire my friends who are disciplined in exercise and gifted in athletics, I contently realize that...an athlete I am not! "You go" to all you gals who are! I still love to cheerlead and encourage others!

By His grace, I can run the race of my journey with Him! I pray for His strength for the endurance. He indeed is my satisfaction and my life.

Runner Mom Susan is a trained athlete and an encouraging cheerleader, too! :) She's got it all going on! Just love her!

Bless you, Kelli! :)

Sue J. said...

A friend blogged recently about the "sin that entangles" like spider webs that you run into and get caught! I have felt those webs this past week.

But such encouragement to read "throw off everything!" Indeed! God's Word was brought to light in so many ways this week through supportive friends and Scriptures.

I do not run, but today, I feel like I could. Being set free from binding sin makes you feel like you can do things you ordinarily wouldn't be able to. We can do nothing without Him, and with Him--wow! What He can do through us!!

I can be that water girl on the sidelines :-)

Nice wrap-up today!

Lysa TerKeurst said...

Hi Kelli...
Thank you for your insightful post over at my place.

I have enjoyed catching up with your posts today. I especially enjoyed the spiritual insights you wrote about regarding Sarah Palin's glasses.

Very wise!

Chatty Kelly said...

Well, the internet just ate my last comment, which I can't possibly type again! Suffice to say, I enjoyed your post very much, and found it very applicable to my life.

So now I am trying to post again. Hopefully it will stick this time!

Patti Shene said...

Hey, Kelli, just wanted to let you know I'm still following your blog, even though I don't post comments often. I'm the one who wrote you a few months ago that I stumbled across it and read every single post.

Anyway, this one was particularly significant for me since I just got home from vacation in NY state, where I watched my son run the 1/2 marathon in the Adirondack Marathon Distance Festival. My sis and BIL are very involved in the marathon and I worked one of the water stations. It was the neatest experience! It's so inspiring to see the endurance, perseverance, and stamina those runners demonstrate as they strive to achieve their goal. It has even inspired me to consider going back next year and walking the half. We'll see.

Loved your spiritual insight into physical fitness. Your posts are great. Keep it up. You are an inspiration.

Maybe someday I'll get to meet you in person!