It’s Saturday morning at the time of writing this, and I am currently laying down as flat as I possibly can on our living room floor, having just come back from a run. I went for my first ever run, using the couch-to-5k app, about two years ago, and I have officially caught the running bug: I’m training for my second half-marathon in March, and hitting the streets has well and truly become a part of my routine.
I’m not going to convince you to start running, I promise – this isn’t a blog post about fitness. But as I ran today, without headphones on, I let my head go and I realized that one of the biggest wins with running has been the time and head-space I’ve had with God while I’ve been out. It’s not possible to crack on with admin, or talk to anyone, or let yourself get sucked in to Netflix while you’re out on a run – and often this is the time that I use to chat away to God about whatever is going round in my head that day.
There are lots of things that I think about as I run; and today my thoughts turned to the process of running, and the ways that it reflects life with God. I thought, as I ran through the open fields around Cambridge, about a phrase that I hear runners throw around every now and then – that once you can run 10k, you can run so much further; it’s just a case of keeping your legs moving. As I felt a bit of a burn in my legs and I passed the 11k mark, I thought about how that is so often how life with God goes: it’s a case of keeping your legs moving, keeping your eyes fixed on Him; not stopping and going back the other way because things hurt, and it would be easier that way. Once you’re running with Him, He’s in it for the long haul with you – you’ve just got to keep your legs moving.
But one thing I’ve noticed, is that things get a lot easier when I’m chatting away to Him while I do it. When I’m running, the miles go past a lot quicker when my head is with Him and not on how far I’m going; and in the same way, life is easier when my attention is focused on Him. This is all He’s interested in – it’s not what our feet are doing that is important, but where our attention is at; and if we’re looking at Him, then everything we do is done with Him, anyway.
I Could Walk, But..
That knowledge, that our attention is the most important thing, takes the pressure off of our pace a little bit. I could slow the pace down, and walk instead of running for a while – there’s no shame in that – when I run, I’m chatting away to Him and I’m with Him; and when I walk for a while, I’m still doing it with Him. But, running is the most effective way of getting around, and I am able to do it – I don’t need to walk as much as I think I do.
He loves it when we run with Him in life – when we partner with Him and get involved with the things that He is doing; when we step out and talk to people with Him, when we love people and when we walk as His hands and feet. He loves to work through us, and to see us loving the adventure with Him. But He’s also there when we rest; He doesn’t leave us when we get tired, and when we step aside to breathe and recover. Jesus often stepped out of the crowds to go and pray; He knew that He needed to spend time with his Father at a slower pace just as much as He needed to go and perform miracles and heal people.
Do we put pressure on ourselves, and expect ourselves to be able to run with Him, all of the time? Do we see it as a failure when we need to slow the pace down, and walk for a while? In my experience, He’s with us when we walk, just as much as He is with us when we are running with Him.
It’s Easier When You’re Worshipping
Running is easier when I’m singing songs to Him in my head, or praying around the things that are going on around me: when I’m chatting away to God in my head, I forget that things are difficult, my mind moves away from the parts that hurt, and I don’t think about how far I’ve got left to go. I just run, and I talk to Him – and in that moment, it’s just me and Him in that big open space.
Life with God is like this: I get to do it with Him – He’s in the process and He’s with me, chatting away in my ear. He loves it when I run with Him, and He does it with me; He’s there when I walk, or when I stop, or when I’m on the floor – and He’s also with me when I’m sprinting with all I’ve got.
I’m able to run with Him, in life, because He has brought me to the point of being able to run: from drinking milk to eating solid food, He has grown me in my relationship with Him and now I get to run with Him. Sometimes the pressure comes on, and I feel like I need to walk, or stop, or slow down; but I’ve also got the maturity and the perseverance in me to carry on, and He loves it when I do.
There Are Times When it Gets Tough…
There are moments when it gets a bit tough: when my legs ache, or I don’t feel like I’m able to do it, or I look for a moment at how far I’ve got left to go; but, it’s in these moments that He reminds me of what I’m doing, and how far I’ve already come. He reminds me that I’m still running with Him – and in those moments, the answer is not to stop or turn back, but to carry on talking to God – because that’s when everything else fades away.
And then when I’m done, I feel like I’ve achieved something with Him. I haven’t curled up, and watched Netflix, and filled my mind with anything but Him, and in the process He has worked in and through me.
Hebrews 12 says it like this: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith”. (Hebrews 12:1-2). That is, let us drop everything that weighs us down and entangles us, and let us carry on running this great race with God. Let us engage our perseverance and fix our eyes on Jesus – and run, full on, towards Him.
That’s what life is all about.