by Mary J. Runion
As he stands off to the right, he reaches down to tie his shoe laces. This is it. It is his time, his moment to do what he has prepared for all these months and years. He adjusts his sox to make a snug fit and in the process begins to position himself to stretch his back, thighs, calves, and feet. The warmth of the stretch spreads through his muscles. He knows he is ready. Our runner approaches the starting line, pausing for a moment to remember. He remembers his training; the early mornings he set out before dawn to condition his muscles for the endurance necessary. He recalls the pain of rehearsing again and again the running he is about to do, each time adding more and more distance so that his body will not quit before the end. As he steps up to the starting line, he remembers pretending to do this time and time again until now, when it is finally the true race, it is as familiar to him as the practice run he did yesterday and the day before! He stretches one last time before taking his mark. As the horn sounds, he leaps into action!
Ladies and gentlemen, I believe now is the time of running! It is the season of preparation for the race. I believe that God is calling us to begin running so that he can begin to condition our spiritual muscles for the endurance of running the actual race that is ahead of us. This season is about doing what we are going to do but on a smaller scale so that it begins to feel natural to us.
Take our runner for example. He doesn’t prepare for a race by simply reading about races. He doesn’t stop with talking about them either. If all he did was read about them and discuss them, then on the actual day of the race, he would be horribly unprepared for the endurance and stamina required to run. All the knowledge in the world doesn’t help the muscles in the body sustain the physical demands of the race!
So where does he begin? He begins with running. He runs 1 mile. Then 2 miles. He adds more on each week to stretch himself to new achievements and new abilities. His muscles begin to endure longer, and become even stronger than before. As they get used to the new level he has just conquered, he will then add more distance to build them even further.
Some of us have started running but stopped adding more because we think we are ready. We think that because we have been running for a 2 miles a day and know how to run, that we are ready to enter the 10K (6.2 miles).
What we must understand is that God did not intend for us to enter the race before we were properly prepared to do so. It is vital to listen to Him and learn to wait on Him.
A while back I began praying and asking God about patience. This is what He revealed to me. Patience is the ability to wait on God. When you ask God for patience, He often will put you in a position to wait so that you learn to not act in your own impatience but to wait for Him in His timing. Peace, on the other hand, is the ability to stay calm while waiting on Him. It is the ability to rest in His promise knowing that He has a perfect plan that will come to pass and I do not have to rush to get to it.
Needless to say, my mind was completely blown as I began to ask God for peace in the midst of waiting on Him! See, many times we become impatient and begin to enter the race before our preparation and training is complete. When we move ahead of God there are always negative consequences that God never intended for us to go through. His ways are higher than ours and so are His thoughts (Is. 55:9).
Returning to our runner, we also see that he stretches his muscles regularly, before and after running. What does stretching do? Medically, stretching increases blood flow to the muscles. Blood is what nourishes the muscles. It removes the buildup of lactic acid produced by increased usage of the muscle which can cause the burning sensation during excessive use. By stretching our runner is also allowing the blood to bring much needed oxygen to his muscles, which will strengthen and keep them functioning properly!
Many times, we begin to run our races without stretching or going to God on a regular basis. We hang on to the things we should have left at the altar before God allowing it to burn us and slow us down in what we have been called to do. We begin to get weary in well doing (Gal. 6:9) and soon become sore and stop all together. We don’t allow the life bringing, oxygen rich blood to cover us and bring us back our joy which is our strength (Neh. 8:10) and deprive ourselves of its renewal! God is standing there waiting for us to come to Him, to give Him our burdens, our worries, our cares, our problems so He can give us life, and joy and peace! We must go to Him, not neglecting this simple thing, being with Him, in His presence.
Finally, our runner is flexible. He has trained, adding more and more challenges to his training until he is totally prepared for all that the race has for him to conquer. In the midst of it all, he knows that wherever this path takes him, he is able to go because he is not bound to one place or another. He must run forward, not looking back. He is able to keep his eyes ahead, looking and searching for the finish line and not giving up until he reaches it. Our racer is determined to complete what He started; not at the starting line, but months ago when he set his sights on the race that He would run.
We must remember “that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ”. (Phil. 1:6 NKJV)
The vision that God has given you for you, your family, and for your church, is the race. He will prepare you for it and in due season, you will approach the starting line. Until then, be patient, waiting on Him to prepare you. He will bring you to those practice sessions, and push you through the training. He will stretch you as you grow, become strong, and increase your wisdom, knowledge, endurance, and stamina! And when you do step up to the starting line, He will be there running with you! (Heb. 13:5)
I challenge you to run! Run with those who are running. Run past those who aren’t. Most of all, keep your eyes set on the goal which is Jesus Christ! He is the one and only reason we run at all.
God bless you as you seek and serve Him!