“Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1
Over the summer I broke the habit of a lifetime, and went running without anything being on fire. It happened somewhat by accident. I was working as a counsellor at Beaver Cross Christian camp in Greenwich, New York – sharing God’s love with young people, being a positive Christian role-model for them and generally having a blast serving God. For several weeks I had thought it would be a good idea to wake about before the kids and spend some time in prayer and the Word to get focused for the day ahead. And for several weeks my alarm had been going off early and I had been hitting the snooze button.
So one morning halfway through the second to last week I was determined. I was going to set my alarm extra early, get up, go outside and get woken by the fresh air, do some exercise and then some quiet time with God. And I actually made it outside, I did some pull-ups on a tree branch, and then I saw someone walking towards me. I didn’t have my glasses or contacts on so for a while I wasn’t sure who it was, but once they got closer I was able to see that it was one of the female counsellors, Dash. And she was walking to meet up with one of the kitchen staff, Yael. And the two of them started doing some warm-up exercises. I wanted to do more stuff outside, but I didn’t want to do it in front of them (not because I was worried about showing off, but because I was worried about looking like I couldn’t do much…) So I waited for them to go. But they didn’t.
They thought I was there to watch them run and laugh at them, so to try and put the joke back on me they shouted over at me asking if I wanted to join them. I had my ipod on blasting some worship music, so I didn’t really hear what they were saying, so I went over towards them, and then Dash was asking me if I could handle the pace, which obviously was a challenge I couldn’t turn down…
So from there on for the remaining week and a half of camp the three of us met each morning to run. But before we ran we would pray. And as we ran we would talk about how things had been going with our cabin in devotions the night before (and other general fellowship issues). And after running I would be wide enough awake to pray in the shower and do some Bible reading as the campers were getting through the showers.
We often talk about how was Christians we need to ‘walk the walk’, but sometimes walking isn’t enough. Sometimes we need to run. And we need to stop looking at things as spiritual or secular, because often, with the right attitude, they can be both. Running is something I’d always viewed as a chore, something you did to keep in shape physically, but now I see how you can incorporate it into a time of prayer and fellowship with friends. What activities in your life could benefit from you inviting God to be a part of them with you rather than going solo because they don’t seem overly holy? Things like school work, dish washing, bus riding? Walking the walk as a Christian, seeking to follow Jesus daily means involving him in all aspects of your life. And it involves commitment. It involves regular, persistent dedication. Accountability helps too. Would I have dragged myself up to run in the mornings if it hadn’t been for the fact that Dash and Yael were waiting out there for me? Not a chance! Would I have missed out on great conversation and powerful prayer? Absolutely!
Find people to journey with rather than going it alone. People who will hold you accountable in your walk with God and make sure you are doing things to keep growing in faith.
Find something that helps you focus better on God, and stick with it. Taking time in the morning to pray and study the Word is a great way to get set for the day ahead, to plant yourself on Christ the solid rock before any temptation comes your way. The important thing is that if you are doing things do them to grow closer to God as the primary aim. Make your Walk with him your priority, and be prepared for that walk to come in unexpected shapes and sizes, and to sometimes come at a faster pace than just a walk.
I’ve come home now, but have pledged to keep the prayer and running up, I’ve done it the past two mornings, and so far so good. And for those who were wondering, I could totally handle the pace! (There may or may not have been a lot of silent prayers for endurance along the way…)