Wake up before the sun. Run. Go to work. Rest, rinse, repeat.
Twelve weeks into an 18-week marathon training program, this is the pattern of most of my days. There isn’t anything flashy about running upwards of 20-30 miles per week as I’m usually rewarded with numerous blisters, sore legs, and a nagging case of sleep deprivation.
It’s during these runs, however, typically without earbuds and void of musical distraction, when I am forced deep inside my own thoughts in order to pass the time. Sure my thoughts tend to start out with casual observations on the weather or poor decisions in pre-run snacks. But as the miles wear on, my thoughts dive a little deeper. I try to answer the question my pastor asks himself again and again, which is “How’s my heart?” I think about what might be bothering me and revisit my motivation for running in the first place.
I am running for my friend who fought Osteosarcoma with everything he had.
I am running to attempt new levels of endurance and ease on long runs.
I am running because God gave me a healthy body.
I can’t help but find a parallel between these mundane training runs where my feet simply hit the pavement over and over again and how I sometimes feel in my walk with God. My walk with God is full of days that feel routine and what most would label as unremarkable. There are days when my prayers lack passion and I rush through reading the Bible. But I am trying to remember that God cares about ordinary routines. He wants me to show up, to bring my best self, again and again. He is building up in me an endurance not only for my present circumstances, but for things yet to come.
It’s easy to have powerful sermons, weekend retreats, or incredible sunrises stand out as times I have felt close or connected with God; much in the same way memories of completing a race leave me feeling adept or accomplished. But I tend to under appreciate or tire of the mundane moments that ultimately lead me to these important junctures. I quickly forget the effort required to get a toddler fed and dressed for a 9:15 am service. Or the willpower required to not hit snooze and read that next chapter of the Bible (especially when plodding through the rules and laws of Leviticus).
Paul describes this need for self discipline when, in 1 Corinthians 9:24, he asks, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” 18 weeks of training and self discipline, of showing up again and again, to conquer the marathon. The daily training of my heart and mind to be more like Christ. Mile by mile, I know I am getting closer to my prize.
As Proverbs 21:5 says “Steady plodding brings prosperity.”