I was going to think of a witty title for this post but I can’t. My brain is frazzled after my exertions last night. And to be honest there isn’t really any other way to say it. Running is hard. Very hard. And not very glamorous!
I am not a runner. But I have decided to take part in a 5 mile run at the end of May. Well, it’s not actually a 5 mile run. It’s a 5 mile section of the Edinburgh marathon. But don’t worry, I will stop running after 5 miles and not even be mildly tempted to do the other 21!
Last night’s run was hard. I got a bad stitch and felt like someone was using my stomach as a punch bag whilst I was trying to run. It was not a pretty sight. I was sweaty, I cried, I grimaced and I got a bit angry at Phil for not finding it as hard as I was.
I was so glad to get home and collapse on the floor!
As I chatted to Phil about my frustration at finding it so hard I started to think about the progress I was making and the journey I was on. Only a few weeks ago I couldn’t run for more than a minute without wanting to give up. I took some comfort from the fact that I had actually improved quite a bit in just a few weeks even though the process was hard and painful.
Running is a physical discipline. It takes motivation, commitment and consistency to see changes and improvement. It requires determination to push on when it’s hard, when it hurts. It has called for me to see the bigger picture, to look beyond the immediate struggle, to see the overall progress and look forward to the continual improvements.
I started to think about how this relates to our spiritual disciplines and how it can affect our journey as a disciple of Jesus.
We’re surrounded by a world of instant results, instant gratification, and instant solutions. Working hard for something or waiting for something is not what we’re used to. And this can affect our approach and mindset when it comes to our spiritual disciplines too. I know that it has affected me.
Prayer is harder when we don’t see instant results, or when the results we see are not what we would expect. But we are called to continue to pray with perseverance.
Reading God’s word can be hard when it challenges us, or when it doesn’t make sense straight away. But we are called to seek out God through regular reading of His word. Fasting, witnessing and serving are also areas that require discipline. A motivation and consistent commitment as with any physical discipline. A determination to continue even when it’s hard, even when it hurts.
It would be unrealistic of me to expect to run the 5 miles easily after just one session or one week of training. The same is true for our spiritual disciplines.
If we commit to these disciplines, God is gracious to help us see the bigger picture. To understand His perspective and His timing. And to give us the strength we need each step of the way. He also provides us with training buddies who come alongside us. Those people around us who encourage us, challenge us and help us to grow.
After all, we are all in a race everyday. The race of life. And God will help us to run the race well, if we are determined and commit to our part in training for the journey.