run {body + soul}

i ran my first 5k 2 years ago.  i was encouraged and invited to do so by a friend, who, after suffering an injury, ended up cheering me on at the finish line rather than running the race along side me.  my husband cheered me on as i crossed the finish line too, all the while thinking to himself..."good for her. but i'm not a runner. i couldn't do that".  

fast forward: my husband, Brian (the non-runner) ran a 5k with me this past weekend, finishing in under 30 minutes.  it was a major milestone in his health+fitness journey, as over the last 18 months he's lost more than 50 pounds by dramatically changing his approach to eating and exercising. his bib number says it all...180. that's the kind of turn around he's made.

running...and i'm not a marathoner by any stretch of the imagination... has intensely impacted my body, yes. but it has also had a tremendous affect on my mind and heart.  God speaks clearly to me when i run. my mind opens up and i hear him better when i'm not distracted by life, when i'm only concentrating on breathing. and not falling.

over the course of the last few runs ...but mainly during our recent 5k... i believe God spoke some simple, but significant, truths to my heart.  they affect both the body {B} and the soul {S}.  

the first is this...

1{B} you can't run once a week and expect to gain ground in your training, get stronger in your body or go further the next run.  you will not grow or get better without consistency.  

1 {S} the same is true in our relationship with the Lord. we cannot possibly expect to flourish and mature if we are not putting in the time and effort.

2{B} there were some pretty old people that finished before i did, with spectacular times. i'm talking about men and women in their 70s and even 80's!  i was so impressed with the fact that they had clearly been runners for a long time, and had improved with age. i want to learn their secrets of success and follow their example.

2{S} the same is true in our Christian community. we should be looking to the saints that have gone before us that are growing in their walk and flourishing in their faith.  i want to learn from them.

3{B}  i found myself slowing down when i sensed other runners slowing down in the middle of the race. there were people that i stayed pretty much on track with most of the time.  we kind of became an un-official pack.  but there were 1 or 2 moments that i felt myself slow because one of the runners near me was slowing down, and realized i was sort of being sympathetic on one hand, but also using their lack of momentum as an excuse to slack-off myself.  this shouldn't happen. it's great to come along side someone and help them keep their pace, but it's no excuse not to do your best.  it's good to build others up, but not so good to allow yourself to be torn down.

3{S} in spiritual terms, it's important to be compassionate, but it's just as important to align ourselves with like-minded people who will help us move forward and press-on, not drag us down or cause us to fall behind.

4{B}  when you slow down, people pass you.  keep up your pace.  it may be necessary to slow for a bit to catch your breath, but don't stay slow.  it's not always easy to regain that ground. and it's possible that you won't catch up to those that pass you.  

4{S} i've had what i believe are God-given ideas that i didn't act on. inklings and leadings of the Spirit i didn't respond to.  plans i failed to put into practice.  and i lost out.  some opportunities were offered again. some weren't.  in certain cases, someone else got the jump on me and did something that i knew God had called me to do.  God will use us as we are available.  so keep in step with the Spirit. 

5{B}  remain mindful of your goal. don't get sidetracked by other runners and their speed or time. use others as motivation, yes. both faster and slower runners can be great motivators. but stay focused on YOUR ability and YOUR goal.

5{S} God has called us each to a unique purpose. we are a body of believers, each with different gifts for different reasons.  the moment we decide we want to be someone else, have someone else's unique gift, or do what they are doing is the moment we expose ourselves to the enemy.  we give him ground as we express our lack of trust in God by comparing ourselves to others and being dissatisfied with who we are in Christ.

6{B} when the race is the hardest, that's the most important time NOT TO QUIT! finish well! finish strong! don't waste the effort you've expended. towards the end, when the finish line is in view and you can't breath and your lungs are burning and your legs hurt that's when you have to dig deep and push hard.  you can.

6{S} we are in a battle. we will struggle. but Jesus says..."fear not! for i have overcome the world!".  we are capable of more because HE is able!! press on!!

7{B} the race is won or lost in your mind.  your physical training is of the utmost importance, but don't underestimate the value of the power of your mind.  you can kill your chances of finishing well by simply telling yourself you can't.

7{S} do not give the enemy a foothold into your mind.  his trap is deception and discouragement. you buy into his lies when you believe him. resist the enemy and he will flee.  keep your mind trained and focused on the author and finisher of our faith. HE will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast and stayed on HIM.