You might call me crazy. I did. I found myself asking the question, “Who gets up at 5 am on a weekend, to go stand outside, downtown Columbus, in 30 degree weather at 6:30 in the dark, dressed in nothing but light-weight running gear, and actually enjoys it?” Not only that, but we were surrounded by 15,00 others, just as crazy as us? Running – I can’t explain it, I can’t get enough.
Well, despite the chilly start to the morning, there was no rain AND there was sunshine – big blessing in light of recent weather choices. My life partner and love of my life Aaron, along with my amazing running companion and friend Amanda, set out on another journey this morning, anticipating a great morning run together. And then God…
I read over a few scriptures before leaving this morning, nothing but the desire to place the Lord first above all MY intentions this morning, and my eyes fell upon verses from Philippians that have breathed life into my soul many times over.
Philippians 3:12, 14
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Press on, my Lord, in His precious way, was the complete provider this morning. He blessed me with companionship for the journey, weather for the way, strength as I called out in prayer, but this time, He also added a focus. One like I’ve never felt before. My father calls it my “game face”, I experience it as tunnel – vision, God gave it to me in the form of mental strength – it trumped all other thoughts of quitting, slowing down, and getting by – it empowered me to press on.
My goal/heart’s desire for today was to see a number I have not seen thus far in my running journey. As He’s graciously allowed me to complete, now 6, half-marathons, I’ve never seen a time lower than 1:54. With all that was within me, I desired to see a 1:53 like nobody else’s business. It’s eluded me each time, it was a goal that I dared dream about, yet mostly “doubted” about. Each race has brought it’s lessons and it’s purposes. Time has always been a nice bonus, never really the reason to run…. until today.
My Father, veteran track and cross-country coach, left with me with some parting advice this morning… Have fun. Same advice He shared with our precious children before running their kids’ races just yesterday. It was good advice… no, it was wise advise. Our journey was meant to be enjoyed, how easily we forget at times. With this in mind, Amanda and I waved good-bye to Aaron, thanking Him for the prayer before departure, as He set off for His race – and we enjoyed the time, the scenery, the people. With the familiarity of the course, we set off on ours.
As the miles came and went, I noticed a strange sensation. I’d experience a time of depletion and a time of restoration. The mind vs. the body completely fascinates me. In times of depletion, I needed to talk to myself. “Remember your form, pick up your legs, breathe. You’re doing well. You’ve accomplished this much, and now we have this much left.” Over and over this happens. A little while later, I then experienced a moment of “lightness”, almost like I dropped a twenty pound weight and was free from weight and pain. In these moments, I thought, “I’m really going to do this.” Back and forth, back and forth. A fight, an enjoyment, a fight, an enjoyment. So much like life, isn’t it. At one point Amanda asked me, “How are you doing?” “Good, ” I say, “At least I’m telling myself that.”
Mile after mile passed by. One by one, as has happened every other time, the finish line comes into view. These last few moments are times in which both body and mind need to dig deep. All the training runs prior to the day flash across my mind, thoughts of completion drive me to the end. I round the last corner and I squint to see the time clock above the finish line. The strain of the race is begging to be relinquished, my mind is willing me to push forward to press on, my heart longs to see those ever elusive numbers, 1:53. My eyes focused, ready to see… What is it? It can’t be. It is. My eyes tell me I’m completing this race in a 1:48!!! Unbelievable – only God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
Lord, you amaze me, you bless me, you overwhelm me, I thank you. I praise you for allowing Aaron to complete the race well, even through his sickness. I thank you for protecting him, I thank you for Him. I thank you for teaching me over and over how obedience brings blessings, more than I could could ever ask for or imagine. I thank you for providing the strength to press on. I thank you for the ability to dare to believe that with You, all things are possible. I thank you for bringing me into your forever family. I thank you for loving me. I thank you for seeing me a a beautiful child. I thank you for the trials. I thank you for the lessons. I thank you for the joy. I love you.