Do you ever have those moments when you challenge yourself to do something new, something you have never really done before? It’s so easy to get into a pattern and feel comfortable in your own little zone. The longer you stay in this place, the harder it becomes to make changes. You become so familiar with the things you do, that to try something different brings with it a new fear; fear of failure; fear of how others might see you; fear of never being good enough. Do we even know what good enough is? We seem to be experts at setting unrealistic goals for ourselves. It is so easy to measure ourselves against what we see others achieve and think we are capable of the same, or even better.
A couple of years ago, I decided to attempt running. Well, my first problem was that I am extremely self-conscious. If this was going to work, I had to sneak out at just the right time. Next, I needed to have the right equipment. I needed to look the part (well, sort of) and have the right protection for my feet. Finally, I needed the weather to be just the right temperature, not too hot and not too cold, and definitely not raining!
I worked out that the best time would be after the school bus had picked up the kids and after my neighbours had left for work. Some images are best left to the imagination if you know what I mean! So, like a night-time ninja (talking about stealth here, definitely not speed or technique), off I went with my iphone and earplugs to commence my new activity. This lasted for quite a few weeks and I managed to get myself into a routine. I felt so much better for it and was actually enjoying it. It was a bit of an escape from everything around me. I was nothing like competition standard, but I was achieving (by my standard) a reasonable distance. At this point, the odds were against me and I came down with a virus which required me to have a break.
You know when you stop doing something, even for a short while, it becomes so much harder to maintain any kind of motivation and commitment. Each evening, I would plan for tomorrow to be the day when I restarted my regime. Each morning, I would find a reason why I could not - it was raining, I didn’t have time, I didn’t feel like it! I could manage the odd day but really struggled to get back into my regular routine. So here I find myself 2 years later and it’s still on my heart to do. When I take time to think about what God might be saying to me through this, there is a strong emphasis on perseverance and keeping my eyes fixed on the goal. It’s about a goal that is right for me and not being distracted by what’s around me.
As we read in Hebrews 12, we learn the importance of fixing our entire attention on Jesus in our Christian walk. There is great benefit to be found in being committed to hard work and in running patiently. I need to learn to wait. I need to remember that suffering is a training ground for my spiritual maturity. I need to continually remind myself that God is on my journey with me. I do not need to struggle alone.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)
“Since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us. Keep your eyes on Jesus, our leader and instructor. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterwards; and now he sits in the place of honour by the throne of God.”
I am thankful to be surrounded by others who are running a similar race and are there to encourage me. My life race is unique to me, as yours is to you, and those who have finished their race can bring great wisdom and encouragement. When I consider my inheritance, I am inspired!
So, off I go again, with renewed focus and determination in my attempt to run the race that is set before me and learning from what is behind. This time, I know I can’t do it in my own strength. There will be good days and not so good days, but I have chosen to persevere. This time I intend to finish my race!