Lay Your Foundation Friday. And Love It.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Once upon a time, I ran a few marathons, three to be exact.  The training for my first one was, lets be honest--excruciating--and mostly my own doing because I spent every day telling myself:  "I can't run that far...I can't do this...I can't do this...What am I doing? I can't do this...I'm never going to finish 26.2 miles!" -- over and over and over again.  My long-run days would consist of me running in the morning and then not moving again for the rest of the day.  Running and training for my first marathon was as much a mental exercise (if not more so) as it was physical.  Luckily I had a great training partner and friend!  She kept me focused and on track, and slowly -- so slowly, I began to see and believe that I would actually be able to finish 26.2 consecutive miles in one day...which I did.

When I think back to that time in my life {about 7 years ago}  I am still amazed at myself.  I saw incredible strength and growth develop, and I learned many things about myself.   The confidence I gained was not just actually spilled out into many parts of my life, and thank goodness! {I certainly needed it!}  I realized that I could do hard things and surprisingly there is a lot of power in that -- power to fight against the evil voices in our head that try to derail and discourage us, and power to accomplish and overcome really, really difficult things. I've thought a lot about the analogy of a marathon as it relates to our lives.  It has many applications and I have come to believe that our life is not just one big long marathon, instead, I believe our lives are actually a continuous cycle of marathons...

Haven't we all run marathons in our lives? Aren't we each running our own private marathons right now?  Some of our runs are 5K---some are 10K---some are half marathons---some are full marathons---and some are ultra marathons or 100milers, as they're called.  The Lord will give us time to train and prepare for our races in between, but are we doing the work and committed to the little bit everyday?  Or are we running our races untrained?  --The results of which can be excruciating!

Thank goodness the Lord is with us on all of our runs -- the easy ones, the challenging ones, and yes, even the painful runs that never seem to end.  Yet, we have to accept His company as He runs beside us.  Paul declared to the Hebrews "Seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us." (Heb 12:1)

So, as He runs beside us, do we let Him in?  Do we allow His gentle encouragements to strengthen us?  Do we lean on Him for guidance and instruction?  Do we pour out our fears, hurt and pain?

I ran my second marathon by myself about six weeks following my first marathon.  I thought, "I've got this."  I  felt prepared physically and even mentally to a certain extent, but strategically I was a mess.  I started too fast, I didn't anticipate all the downhill that set my quadriceps on fire.  I struggled and fought for those last miles and it was a battle...only to find out that just as I crossed the finish line I would see a dear friend who had run the race only seconds faster.  I wondered how many times we ran side by side without ever realizing it.  How I could have benefited from having a familiar face to encourage me and take my mind off all my pain and misery that day.  

Unfortunately, many lessons we learn the hard way and regardless of how tired, discouraged and frustrated we are, we still have races we must run.  Prepared or not.  Trained or not.  Rested or not.  Healthy or not.  Friends or not.  And luckily, He never gives up on us, instead He wants to help and lift and strengthen us, but will we let Him? --- Or, do we know better?  Or, in my own words, do we say, "I've got this."?   When really, we just don't...not even close.

So as the races continue to come in our lives, we can either focus our attention on the finish line myth -- that "everything will be better--when its all over", or we can join the Lord, accept his company in our training, in the races we run and in all the aid stations along the way. 

We must first look for Him.  Then we must listen and let Him teach us.  Next, we must continue a dialog of faith and trust that will continue to buoy us up and guide us through all aspects of our races...easy or hard.  And when we look back at all our medals of the races we've won and lessons learned, we'll know that it was only possible because of Him.

Because really, It's all because of Him.


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