Sunday, April 14, 2013

Running the Race...

Lucy has been asking for awhile to train with me for a race, but I wanted to wait until we got into some warmer weather.  (Oddly enough, when we did start training we went from having a 90 degree day to a 40 degree day, but that's Texas for ya!)  I'm currently training for a 10K that I plan to run next month, and they also offer a 1mile kids run at the same race, so I asked Lucy if she would like to run that race.  She very excitedly agreed, so we began "training" a few weeks ago.  First, she wanted to ride her bike around for a bit, and then we used the last bit of daylight to run.  She spent the majority of the time just laughing as she ran beside me--I think she was so excited to get to run with me but also didn't really know what to expect, so she nervously laughed away:)  She kept saying, "Momma, cheer for me!" so I ran beside her yelling out,

She was quite proud of herself until the very end when we both sprinted forward and I made the mistake of making it back to the house a few steps before she did.  Completely deflated, she said, "I lost..."  I kept trying to explain to her that we weren't racing against one another--we were training TOGETHER--and besides, momma's legs are quite a bit longer than hers are.  (I have a feeling she will be out-running me before too long anyway, because goodness knows I am NOT a fast runner by any stretch of the imagination!)  Anyway, I think she enjoyed it, and I'm hoping she will want to continue with it--it was a fun activity for us to do together:) Running has never really been about speed for me, even though I do set goals for myself. It's not ever been about crossing the finish line first--it's been about crossing the finish line STRONG.  God has really taught me so many things from running and training--it's been a struggle, but a BLESSING.  I was really reminded of that a few weeks ago when I went on a run in my mother's neighborhood...

I mostly grew up in a small north Texas town.  It's not covered in mountains, but if you were to look at it right next to where I live now, you might think it was.  I live in West Texas now, and a speed bump is just about the only "hill" you'll see around here!  LOL:)  What it lacks in "rolling pavements" it certainly makes up for with windy conditions, and training through wind is pretty much the west Texan's equivalent to hill training.!  That's not to say that north Texas doesn't have its share of windy days, too, but it's just not usually as strong or as frequent.  The particular day I went running in my mother's neighborhood recently was a fairly windy one, but thankfully I was going in a direction where the wind happened to be blowing WITH me instead of AGAINST me.  As I got to the last few minutes of my run, I was struggling to finish.  I had just climbed a long, gradual hill and my legs wanted to give out, but then I felt the wind so gently and refreshingly pushing me forward.  I found myself just opening up my arms in abandon.  I immediately smiled (well, ok, it might not have looked like a smile to anyone else since I was huffing and puffing!)  Isn't that exactly what God does for His children?  As we turn the corners from those deep and difficult hills we face in life, He gently pushes us onward and refreshes us in those times of need.

Just a few days after that, I got another run in and was reminded of another great spiritual truth: We are called to persevere!  I was back in my windy west Texas town for this particular run, and not only was I pushing myself through the wind, but I was pushing Gabriel in the jogging stroller, too.  I so wanted to stop at that last 1/4th of a mile, but I was reminded that "when I am weak, then I am strong," and how we can do ANYTHING "through Christ who gives us strength."  I am not a natural-born runner.  It has never come easily to me, and I don't think it ever will.  But I know God desires to be a part of every single aspect of my day, so running has taught me how to rely on Him even in a task such as exercising.  So when I came to the point where I wanted to just give up towards the end of my run, I thought to myself, "You can't do this P-B...but God can."  When I feel like I can't move another step or breathe another breath because I'm so out of strength, I'm reminded the importance of perseverance and finishing strong, and that I will never be able to do that on my own.

Running isn't always an "uphill battle" though; sometimes it's a downhill slope...that seeks to spiral out of control.  Climbing a hill is difficult, but those of you who run know that going downhill isn't exactly a walk in the park either!  If you don't stay focused, it's easy to lose your step and tumble to the bottom of that hill.  You have to take smaller, shorter, more controlled steps to run safely down a hill.  It's like in our spiritual lives when things are going really well and seem really easy.  We can think we've got those times under control and that we can handle them on our own, so we forget to really pay attention.  We often depend less on God during those "easy downhill times," and before we know it, we've lost complete control, and we tumble down to the bottom of the hill.

Not only do I see the spiritual correlations from my running as an adult, but I also see them through my children as they learn and grow and develop.  With children, we give them incentives to help them learn to crawl and walk.  We stand with our arms open wide in front of them, welcoming them to us. We have the ability to pick them up and bring them to us, but we want them to grow and learn from the experience of making those steps towards us by themselves.  And, our Heavenly Daddy is the same way.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 says this:

(The Message)
24-25 You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.
26-27 I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.

As I guide my children as they grow and develop, I pray I can ultimately guide them in the direction of my Jesus.  Yes, we want great things for our children, but I don't crave success for them in the world's eyes.  My prayer is not that they will finish first in life, but that they will finish STRONG for the glory of God!

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