"Run with endurance the race set before you, keeping your eyes on the Author and Perfector of your faith."
It is that time of year when I can start to take my show on the road...the running show, that is.
Ok. The jogging show.
The slow loping stagger show occasionally.
You get the point. For the sake of argument, from this point forward, I will use the word "run" to describe the somewhat loping, forward motion I engage in. If you could do me the courtesy of picturing me as graceful and lean, like a gazelle, I would really appreciate that...
Anyway, I can exercise outside again, instead of being trapped on a treadmill at the Y. Not that I don't enjoy that too...it's just nice to feel the fresh air. I had forgotten how much harder it is to run outside, though, at least for me.
On the treadmill, I can set a speed and stick to it, or risk being flung against the windows behind me. When I am running outside, it is sheer determination that sets the pace. I either go too fast and burn out or too slow and wonder why I'm not just walking instead.
There is no wind in my face, pushing me backwards in some cases, in the stable environment of the cardio room. I don't get the fresh air headache on the treadmill.
I will never get run over by a small boy on a two-wheeler while running on the treadmill at the Y. (OK, that was my small boy and he didn't mean to...he was just riding in a circle around me...)
As I was running around Frame Park the other day, Justin leading the way on his bike, it took about 30 seconds of running to realize that it was going to be tougher than I thought. I had planned to circle the park twice, then let Justin play at the playground. My lungs were burning 1/4 way around the first time, and my legs felt thick and heavy. The wind was chillier than I thought it would be, and the seagulls were heckling me too...not the "communing with nature" experience I was looking for.
As I was plodding along, I started comparing the run to my walk as a Christian. There are some environments where it is just comes more naturally to do the right thing. Hanging out with my Yahweh Sisters, sisters in Christ, where we are all on the same page, I don't have to "work" so hard at honoring God in my thoughts and actions. Showing love in the gym at church on a Sunday morning comes easier than in the local Walmart parking lot where someone just stole "my" spot. It is much easier to engage in uplifting small talk with like-minded friends, than on the school playground where the topic of the day might be whoever isn't standing there. Being a Christ-follower is easier in certain environments, places that seem to facilitate those sort of interactions. I can freely offer to pray for someone in the hallway at church, sometimes right there even, than in the aisle at Pick-n-Save, which I hope doesn't make me the H word. It's not that I wouldn't want to, but I might scare people away, get labeled as some sort of religious zealot or something. Yup, definitely easier in certain settings.
But Christ hasn't asked us to stand around in our holy huddles praising Him all the time. He sent His disciples out into the surrounding countryside to spread the word and represent Him to those who were still far away. In Matthew 6, we are reminded to set our lamp on a stand, instead of putting it under a basket. What good is our faith, our salt, if we don't use it to season our lives and the world around us?
As I was running, (remember...picture me graceful...), I was thinking that if I stayed in sterile man-made environments, I would never hear the birds singing. I wouldn't get to smell the promise of spring on the breeze. I wouldn't get to feel the warmth of the sun on my face. I don't think I am willing to trade all of that just to keep my life easy. I have to be willing to run on the harder path, a place where I will need Him to mount me up on wings like an eagle, instead of being satisfied with just walking on my own strength.
On the path the other day, I set my sight on a bench about 1/4 mile in the distance as a place to switch to a walk. It wasn't the full distance around that I was hoping for initially, but it was respectable. As I got closer to my goal, the seagulls really laid in to me. They were screaming and circling, and in my head, I pictured them as Satan's minions. The closer we get to succeeding, the less the enemy likes it. We are rocking his world when we step out in faith and shouldn't let his taunting deter us. Just that thought alone was enough to drive me on, running right past that bench, to finish the second lap strong.
I don't want to live with a treadmill kind of faith. I want to be out there, shining my light in all environments, trusting Jesus to see me through when the going gets tough.
How about you? Will you run with me?