A few years ago, I spent a summer training for a half marathon. That year, life was in shambles. Stress and worry consumed me, and I was facing challenges unlike anything I’d ever encountered. Every move I made was calculated to try to regain peace, but my belief in self-reliance was wavering as summer approached.
That summer at home began as it always does, with a 10k that happens every Memorial Day. I was walking through the race expo, eyeing all the runners. They had an energy in their step that I craved. Hope was palpable. I walked up to a running club’s tent, asked a few questions, and signed up on a whim to train for a half marathon, a distance I’d never imagined I’d ever take on.
I woke up every Saturday at six in the morning that summer, tied up my laces and drove out to the trail. I’d greet my running buddies between yawns, and off we’d go for three miles, five miles, twelve miles, talking about life and love everything in between. Running became my sacred time. Every other moment of the day was shrouded in hardship, but the few hours I spent with my feet on the pavement were full of light and trust and healing.
Looking back, I realize how serendipitous that season of life was. A moment in time that cannot be recreated. I have tried, I assure you. Life will get hard again, and I’ll think, This can be solved by another half marathon, only to quit after two weeks. I trick myself into thinking that I have all the answers, and the reason why light overtook the darkness of that summer was because I was in control.
I am solution hungry, a problem solver, a rescuer. When times get tough, I immediately rack my brain for the steps to take that will soothe my worries and iron things out. I like to be in control. I like the routine of a wake up time, a planned breakfast, a training schedule.
Here’s the thing: running requires trust and acceptance. What is before you is all there is. A cadence of one foot in front of the other, a breeze between your fingers as they glide back and forth against your body, the sky above you and the road beneath you.
It is in these sacred moments when it becomes apparent that reliance on God is the only way forward. Times get tough, my body starts to hurt, my heart is pounding and I am out of breath – but somehow, I am still running. I am still moving, I am still alive. No self-made solution will ever equal the sustenance that God provides when I give up control and let life come as it will.
It is easy to forget about the sweat and the tears and the pain, and how God lit the path before my feet that summer, not me. But the important thing to remember is that no matter how many times we mess up and think we can fix it on our own, God always shows up, always turns the light on, always sets up a half marathon training tent. We can and will say, “I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me?”
“The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.” (Romans 7:25, The Message)
No matter the challenge, no matter our belief that we can do it all on our own, God shows up. His peace cannot be manufactured. The hope we crave, the energy we long for, is a product of the faithful One’s desire to shower us with love, to teach us about perseverance, to reveal to us the sacredness of life, of the bodies we have, the bodies he resides in, the bodies that can and will keep moving.
I so get this! I just started running and it is amazing the parallels with the Christian life. My strength comes from Him because in myself, I am weak. Every breath I breathe comes from the Word of God because everything else is worthless. Let’s talk about grace! Some days the best I can do is carve out the time and walk the 3 miles. That’s the grace I’ve been given that day and God is there! Running doesn’t solve problems but it helps me focus on the One who makes all things new and has prepared good works for me to do!
Right now I feel side lined by a bum knee and aching rotor cuff on my right shoulder. It’s all the results of a fall during a dark, moonless night. I’m bearing the results of this fall for over six months and kicking myself for the consequences. Yet, in all this aftermath, I find that I have been forced to turn to God in a way like never before. Your experiences and now mine confirm that only God can bring something new and positive in my life when I’m healing and finding His direction to start writing in a serious way.
Stephanie May says
This is beautiful. I’m so proud of you friend. 🙂
Beth Williams says
Congratulations on doing the half-marathon–that is my dream one day. Why do we, especially as women, try to fix things on our own. Why can’t we stop and ask for help–do we think it makes us weak? All the time God is waiting there for us to come to Him and ask.
I find it cathartic when I exercise. I usually either walk, run, or lift weights. Each time I have some music on and really try to push myself. Lately my goal has been 10 walking miles a day, although I usually on do about 5-7 miles.
I drove home from my grief group and just bawled on the way home, deeply aching, telling God that I just can’t live this same life anymore and to please help me and lead me in a new direction. My life was literally wrecked after my husband died. That was the bookend, that was when my life had headed south. Our very new business, our life together, our house, our dog – just gone. The stress nearly killed me and I spent days in the hospital and then I was diagnosed with cancer a few months later. I know this has made me stronger but I’m just done. Your words resonate with me in a very big way, as I have tears in my eyes as I read it. I’m just so tired and I need some of God’s peace. Thanks for letting me vent. I know that God will use these experiences for something good, I hope.
Be A Better Dad, My First Kiss, Running out of Reasons, and Harlem Shake Wedding Style | 4word women says
[…] “Running Out of Reasons Why I Don’t Need God” —Anne Taylor of (in)courage talks about the sacred moments in her life that cause her to realize her deep need for God. […]
I, too, have felt the parallels with running. Running was my quiet time with God (oh, I should probably get back to that someday)… whenever I felt like I could no longer go on, I always felt God pushing me forward, moving my legs, breathing for me, keeping me going. This is a lovely post!