“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3: 13-14
As many of you can tell from the barrage of facebook statuses on the subject, I have been running (yes, four miles) a lot on the Katy Trail (KT) in the downtown/uptown area of Dallas. In fact, most of my statuses seem to have the same mantra of something like this: KT. 4 miles. Bring it on.
I marvel at how much a run can do for me and how much I’ve grown to love my runs. A year ago I would have told you I hated running to my core. I could never see myself building up enough stamina to run one mile, let alone four. Those are the moments I thank God for giving Michal to me, not only as a roommate but as a coach and one of the best friends and sisters a girl could ever dream of. He knew I needed her for so many reasons.
Some of the things I love most about running is that it is time that I not only have to myself, but it’s a time where I sift through my days, sorting out my thoughts, things I need to say and do or whether I should do them. That, in turn, leads me to start talking with the Lord and praying for people in my life, those I love and care deeply for, and for discernment for anything in the present or that lies ahead. Uncertainty creeps in. I wrestle with the Lord in my soul as my feet steadily beat down on the asphalt.
Ok, ok, so I’d hardly call myself a “runner” – let’s face it – I’m already awkward at sports and have my klutzy, balance issues at times. Seriously, I’m severely flat-footed and my right knee turns in when I run – yeah real legit stuff.
As I reflect back on it all, I feel God brought running into my life for a reason. I’m a romantic at heart (duh) and have a passion for writing, so naturally imagery and analogies always strike a deep chord with my soul.
When I’m running I feel three things are happening internally/spiritually: (1) I’m leaving the past behind; (2) I shoulder and embrace the past’s joys and pains and “build muscle” and endurance from it; (3) I’m running towards Christ and just handing it all to Him – even the moments I feel I can’t run anymore from the pain and exhaustion, I press on towards Him anyway knowing that the ultimate reward is worth it all and infinitely precious.
About a month ago, I was running the KT and saw a banner along a chain-length fence that read “RUNNERS WANTED” for the KT 5K hosted by Michelob Ultra. I thought to myself, “This could be fun. I’ve never done a 5K or anything to do with running for that matter. I can do this. I’ve been running four miles about three times a week for the past couple of months, haven’t I?”
I entered the 5K because I wanted to commemorate and sum up what all those late night runs had done and been to me. In my runs I had a lot of moments of pain, sweat and tears, mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally; pain, which only had me clinging to and running towards my Savior, my safe place and the One who loves me with an unconditional, everlasting love.
I had moments full of rejoicing, thanksgiving, revelation, and peace. My wholeness and satisfaction is only in Him. His “wounding” me has driven me to run more, pray more, cling to Christ more, dive in the Word more; yet I also realize that in His “wounding” He has been far more gracious than I deserve and I rejoice and am humbled all the more by the beauty of it all. All this has made me realize Christ’s love and unmerited grace in a deeper more poignant way and I would never trade my “difficulties” along the way. The apostle Paul writes in Romans 8:18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
Fighting vs. Forcing
One of the biggest revelations I’ve had while running is the difference between fighting for something versus forcing something. While I could go on and on about this subject, I’ll just tell you the bottom line. As most of you know, I’m a very passionate, loyal person who just goes all in; not necessarily a bad thing but like anything good and noble, lines can become very easily blurred.
I realized a lot of us, myself included, fight for things that God hasn’t placed in front of us to fight for but that we think we should fight for anyway. THAT is when it becomes when you are forcing something in the guise of fighting for it. I don’t care how you or the rest of the world paints it. It’s as simple as that. The Lord has placed you in this place and this time for His glory and your ultimate good and you are to embrace and fight for with your whole being what you’ve been graciously given. The end.
Finishing the Race
Ok, so I have to give you some details of the 5K, which is why I began writing this post to begin with. Yes, surprise. I once again got all fired up and wanted to spread the joy.
There were 5,000 runners. In one place. Picture this with me. Every ethnicity, every kind of weirdness you can imagine is converged in one place. It was the epic people watching experience times 100. Or as one of my friends described it, “the world series of people watching.”
I was running in the midst of this vast sea of people as far as the eye could see. I felt like I was being pulled along by this rip tide and if I made one wrong move I’d get knocked over and trampled on. Intense.
Anyway, as I was saying, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much of a variety of weirdness in one place; yet I feel I was the odd one out. There was a African American dude with no shirt on and he had a longhorn branded into his arm multiple times (you could tell by the massive amount of scar tissue); you had the typical groups of guys who came to the run who were really there for all the free beer and to ridiculously gape, undress with their eyes, and hit on the tall, leggy, blond, pony-tailed, scantily clad girls who were working the crowds; you had the clingy girlfriends; there were girls wearing big hoop earrings with bling and crystals on their tank tops, which spelled out “Here for beer”; men and women who had full-sleeved tattoos and piercings; parents pushing strollers; dogs; and my personal favorite: a guy with a big, ole beer gut, wearing his SMU track shirt from his college days, who kept trying to keep all of his flab tucked up in his shirt. It just looked WAY awkward. He looked constipated and I saw him passing through the picnic with his wife afterwards and stroking his tummy like he was pregnant ::shudders::
The food was great, the run invigorating, I pushed myself and I feel as if I accomplished something. I can now check the 5K off of my life “to do” list.
A HUGE hug and thank you to all of you who encouraged, inquired and cheered me on.
Rachel B. Duke