Since I've been diligently running for almost a year now, I guess I could be considered a 'runner'! Although it has been said...
"If you run, you are a runner. It doesn't matter how fast or how far. It doesn't matter if today is your first day or if you've been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run."
In this first year, I'm made a lot of physical changes to enhance my running.
I've been a Christian for 25 years now. There are many parallels in being a Christian and being a runner. Let's highlight a few that everyone can relate to:
To begin running, you just start. At first you may not get far, but there is no special needs to begin with a commitment to try it - just as you are.
Becoming a Christian is not a complicated process. We simply admit there is a void in our life that only Christ can fill. We don't need to clean up, just confess, we come to Him, just as we are and begin a new life.
You Change Your Look:
Running steps up the physical activity a bit. While I used to look at all those special running clothes in the store as a waste of money, they now make sense. They are designed to keep runners cook and comfortable and enable them to enhance their performance.
Christians have a new look which begins on the inside. Colossians 3 tells us several old ways to 'put off' and new things to 'put on'. "put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, " These changes grow and mold us to be more like Christ.
Progress Isn't Pretty
Although I've been active for many years, running amped things up a bit physically. When I run, I sweat - a lot. My hair gets nasty, my clothes smell bad and it's not a pretty picture! But it is through running consistently that I become a better runner. The changes that come from pushing through build endurance and keep me fit and healthy. Sweating detoxes my body so that it renews itself.
Christian living produces changes as we grow. These changes may include some detoxing of the soul...attitudes, sins, words and actions may need to be worked out and changed. But as we wrestle through these things, God's grace comes through and makes us beautiful.
Training, Working and Diligence
To continue to make progress as a runner, I need to always be making good choices. Food needs to be evaluated to put the best fuel in the body, weight training (muscle resistance) increases strength and helps me continue to grow and improve. Being diligent means making a time for running several times a week. It goes beyond whether I feel like it or not, it is a commitment to do what's best for my body.
The Christian life is full of daily decisions. To move forward, it is important to watch what goes into the heart. What do we feed on - God's Word or things of the world? Resistance, makes us stronger as we depend on the Lord to make His choices. Diligence to read the Word, attend church and serve others also goes beyond our feelings but is a sign of our commitment.
Growth Comes In Training Alone
Through the year, I've participated in a few 5K races. These challenge me to run faster and encourage me being around so many other runners. But if I only ran in 5K's my running skills wouldn't improve much. It is in the daily runs, drills and training (which is mostly done alone) that the results shine through Little practice results in poor performance when it counts. A 5K takes endurance and speed which can only be increased by training.
Christians are never in competition, but are called to encourage one another. Our Christian growth occurs alone - in prayer and Bible Study, listening for God to share His love and guidance with us. If we never 'practice', or spend time with God when we are alone, we are not filled up when it counts to give it out. As Christians gather together or when out and about, we should always be ready to share God's love and grace. But...you can't give out what you don't possess.
Runners and Christians. Many cannot imagine being either one. God desires that all make the choice to come to Him. He loved us and calls to us even when we aren't listening. But as He draws us with His love and we open our hearts, He will fill us, change us and transform us. From experience I can truly say of both, I never imagined I could do either - be a godly woman or a runner. But God equips us with His power ..."I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me."