Back a few years ago when I started running more regularly, I decided I wanted to train for a half marathon. Not just any half marathon would do; I ran the Disneyland half marathon and played in the park for nearly a week as my inner child exploded all over the place… about a week before joining Mercy Ships fulltime.
But this post is not about Disneyland, it’s about running. Sort of.
Training to run long distances is really hard. Actually… all running is hard if you have never done it before. But what I struggled with most in my training was that 10 mile mark. (a half marathon is 13.1 miles…) That’s about when I would start getting bored. And tired. And sore. And think I’d much rather be doing just about anything than running right now. And the battle was just about as much mental as it was physical, maybe more so…
But what I remember most clearly is what another running friend said to me about that time. She said when you get to that point where everything hurts, and you think you can’t possibly go on… run faster. It’s still going to hurt but at least you’ll be done sooner.
Very wise words indeed… but for oh, so much more than running.
It’s really the motto by which I choose to pursue God… or whatever God is calling me to.
I have a very dear friend who, when I first told her this, she didn’t believe me. But now she knows it’s true. I had the (painful) privilege of practicing what I preach this week. So let’s just say, it’s fresh.
When God begins to stir something up in you… When something that isn’t right is pointed out, either by someone else or just by your conscience… When you realize you have become someone you don’t want to be or you said something that isn’t an accurate representation of who you serve or the pressures of life or love or faith bring out unsavory characteristics or desires or failures… Don’t dawdle. Don’t try to ignore it or squish it up really small and hide it in the recesses of your heart or soul or life. Don’t try to forget about it or focus on something else. Run faster. Towards truth. Towards Jesus.
Because the process of restoration, or redemption, or refining… it isn’t comfortable, to say it gently. Reality is it's usually incredibly painful; disrupting sleeping and eating and focus and emotional stability. And really? It’s always going to be that way. And it will get worse, I promise, the longer you put it off, or try to hide it, or ignore it.
So run faster. Because it’s still going to hurt, but at least you’ll be done sooner.
And what is at the end of the race? A medal, a celebration, carbs, and a hot tub. That’s pretty great. Probably worth fighting through and finishing for.
What’s at the end of redemption? Freedom. Joy. Peace. That’s even better. And absolutely worth fighting for, no matter what the cost. No matter how painful or deep or shameful or dark… Freedom is worth fighting for.
So run faster. Go.