Do You Love or Hate Running?

Graphic derived from photo by Lauren Manning

This morning I decided to start off my day with a quick run around the pond. It was a cool and misty morning – perfect weather for a good run.

The wind was blowing past my face. I felt the rush of adrenaline as my feet pushed against the pavement.

I felt myself taking it all in – enjoying the moment.

For about 30 seconds.

Then, I remembered that I hate running. In a major way.

Honestly, I prefer just about any other form of exercise over running. Every time I try to do it, I find that my motivation is very short lived. Pathetic, even.

Because of this, I smile every time I read the Apostle Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (NIV)

Of all the things Paul could have chosen to illustrate the life of the believer here, he chose the imagery of a runner going into strict training to run a race (not eating ice cream, which I would have much preferred).

Here’s the connection: Like running, our spiritual life involves the steady discipline of participating in a relationship with God.*

So what does that mean for us? Each one of us has to come to grips with the priorities in our lives. Are we accidentally or intentionally placing our physical or mental conditioning above our spiritual formation?

As much as I hate to admit it, given some time and accountability, I could establish running as a regular part of my week. If I really put effort into it and disciplined myself, I could eventually grow my endurance and enjoyment of running.** The same is true in the spiritual realm. No matter how difficult reading the Bible, prayer, solitude, fasting, tithing, outreach, or any other spiritual discipline may be to you today, it doesn’t have to stay that way.***


*This relationship is initiated, grown, and sealed through Jesus – His life, death, and resurrection. More here.

**I assure you, I will never let this happen. I hate running.

***If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of spiritual disciplines, I highly recommend this article

****What the heck? Why all the footnotes? This is a blog post, not a research paper. Good grief!

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Prayer & Yearning

About two weeks ago, during our staff retreat at the Cove in Asheville, God impacted my heart in a huge way. I can’t exactly put my finger on what is happeneing in my soul, but I feel a new work of God happening in my heart.

I feel a new sense of urgency in prayer and an increased passion for the ministry He has called me to.  At the same time, I have a clearer understanding of my my brutally selfish nature.  In opposition to it, I’m asking God to expand my capacity for service without recognition.

Some of what I’ve seen in my heart bothers me, but other parts give me great hope in the future. As I battle against my flesh, I’m praying that God will use this time to draw me even nearer to Himself.  I’m praying that He will work through me in a way that earns glory only for Himself.

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The Worst Chains

Over the past few months I’ve been slowly reading through a book called Holiness by J.C. Ryle.  It’s a fantastic book, and there’s a great quote on almost every page, but I find myself taking it in small pieces and coming back to it every few days.

The “chains” mentioned above are probably not what you would think.  Let me give you part of the preceding paragraph so you’ll see what he’s referring to:

The saddest symptom about many so-called Christians is the utter absence of anything like conflict and fight [against spiritual apathy] in their Christianity.  They eat, they drink, they dress, they work, they amuse themselves, they get money, they spend money, they go through a scanty round of formal religious services once or twice every week.  But of the great spiritual warfare – it’s watchings and strugglings, its agonies and anxieties, its battles and contests – of all thing they appear to know nothing at all.  Let us take care that this case is not our own.

Not to say that there’s anything we can do to earn God’s love, or anything close to that.  Scripture is clear that it’s only through faith in Jesus that people can be right with God.  It’s not about what you do, say, or think that makes you close to God – it’s all about the price Jesus paid to ransom our lives.

But once a person has been redeemed – once their life has been changed by the life-giving power of Christ – there should be something within us that fights back against the world’s temptation to become spiritually numb and go with the flow.

I’m asking God to give me grace and strength to face the ever-present temptation to be chained with lukewarmness and spiritual laziness.

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