1Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.
Hebrews 12:1-3  New King James Version (NKJV)

I was inspired and challenged by a friend recently to join her in running a 5k this October and decided it might be a good time to get training seeing that I haven’t run on a regular basis in quite some. I started out slow and steady and in the end was glad I went, but I won’t lie—I was in some serious pain the next morning!  Every muscle ached and then our family headed out for a day of walking at Niagara Falls.  That night everything was tight and when I woke up, I promised myself I was going to go for my run (against the will of every muscle in my body that was shouting ‘nooooo!!!’).  I went anyway and I have to tell you, I felt like there was a real battle going on inside and out.

Interestingly enough, it was no longer just about the run, but a battle about where I was in my life.  God began to speak to me about my overall attitude and how I needed to do a better job of keeping my head in the game.  And that I needed to be more resolute in my thinking and act accordingly.  He spoke to me about how strong I really am and how I can resist giving up and feeling tired if I just focus on the right things with a right perspective.

Regarding my circumstances, I heard Him keep saying ‘Do not fear… do not be dismayed.’  This was quite a significant statement as things had been weighing heavily on me over the last few weeks and it was showing.

So as I ran, I became very present to the life lessons God was teaching me in the moment and thought I would share them with you here.

  1. Keep your head up

    Not only can you see where you are headed more clearly, but a head-up posture builds confidence and will help your body maintain a more optimum form for running the race of life which reduces fatigue and pain.

  2. Talk yourself through the pain

    Discomfort is a natural part of the course of life.  Rather than succumb to it, pray, talk, and speak the Word through the pain.  Self-talk is powerful and we are doing it all the time.  Make sure the conversation you have with yourself is worthy of the One who is listening.

  3. Set a truly attainable goal and surpass it

    Start out easy with a simple goal in mind to build your confidence and your momentum.  This will set you up for success in that area rather than frustrating your efforts into failure.

  4. Start where you are… even if you’re going up hill

    It really doesn’t matter where you are when you start— as long as you start.  Arriving at your ultimate destination can only happen when you make a decision to get moving in the right direction towards it.

  5. Momentum is key

    Once you get started—it gets much easier to maintain.  If you run long enough you will hit the point of no return where all of a sudden you have the energy of Elijah when He outran the chariots.  It’s incredible really.  There is usually an instance where you feel like you’re about to crash into the wall and drop, but if you can just hold on a little while longer you will actually hit that point of no return where true momentum fuels your mind and body conforming them to the leading of the Holy Spirit and you begin to enjoy the journey in the midst of God’s flow.

  6. Smile – Others are watching

    I was at the point of being unable to go any further when I suddenly felt impressed to ‘pick up the pace and put a smile on my face’.  Here’s the thing… others are watching you and if you are His representative in the world, you need to show up with a smile even in difficult times.  Not in an untruthful manner, but in a way that shows others that it’s worth going through anything with Christ at your side.

  7. Adjust your pace to meet your circumstances

    Depending on the terrain you are facing you may have to slow down or modify your movements.  Being flexible and consistently assessing the situation will allow you to recognise how you need to show up in any given circumstances.

  8. Finish strong

    Although I was extremely exhausted and my body was screaming, ‘No more’! I felt the urge to push forward and end more powerfully than I began.  I set my sights on getting to the next light post and surpassed it.  Then the next one, and then the next one—all while not only picking up the pace, but improving my form and posture as I did it.  At the end, I not only looked like an athlete to the onlookers, but I felt like one as well.

Today, I woke up and I’m not hurting like I was yesterday.  In fact, I feel inspired to run again this morning.  Just remember, starting out is always uncomfortable, but once you get things in motion—you will be ever so grateful that you did.  Finish strong… with excellence.