I sat at the kitchen table on a wet Saturday morning several weeks ago. I knew I needed to go for a run, but I was having a hard time motiving myself on this rainy, gray early morning. With three girls ranging in ages from four to nine, I find that the only time I have alone is when I run, and that usually happens about once a week. I typically creep out early for an hour on a Saturday or Sunday and leave my husband in charge.
On this morning, no one else was awake except my 4-year-old daughter, who was expectantly waiting for something to eat. As we sat there, she asked what I was doing. When I told her I was thinking about going for a run, she asked, “Who’s going with you, mommy?”
I replied, “No, one. I am going by myself today.”
Without missing a beat, my social extrovert gave an empathetic sigh, “AAHHH! That’s not nice! Why does not Mrs. Adams put on her shoes and go with you?” She knew we had gone for a run together recently and she couldn’t imagine why I would want to run alone, without my running buddy, on this cold wet morning.
Run with the end in mind. Run to Win.
It is funny how God will take a discipline and turn it into a joy that sets you free. I am not athletic by nature, but started jogging when I was in college, partly because Doug asked me to go with him when we started dating, and I would do just about anything for that handsome 18-year-old guy. It’s also partly because I am cheap and this is the quickest, cheapest workout you can fit into a busy schedule.
It has been hard. Endurance and stamina have not come quickly nor easily for this faint-hearted girl. There have been many mornings when I wondered why I didn’t find a better way to get some exercise. So I found it amusing as I sat on my bed praying before turning in for the day and had this conversation with God…
Me: So, God. I have asked the women at church to choose one word this year. I know I have had the same word – Follow – for the last two years, and I am perfectly happy just keeping this word another year. So, unless you give me another word, this is what I am going with.
Me: Really? Are you serious? What does this mean anyway? Like Isaiah 40 where you say that we will run and not grow weary? Like you tell us in Hebrews 12 to run with perseverance the race marked out for us?
God: Run in the path of my commands. Run hard. Run fast. Run confidently. Run courageously. Run boldly. Run when you are tired. Run when you are weak. Run with others. Run in the snow. Run even with a knee injury. Run in freedom and joy. Run when your legs burn. Run with the end in mind. Run to Win.
It was just like that – a word dropped in my lap that was unmistakably from Him. This does not always happen. Usually I sit and ruminate and reflect on things until His voice and hand become more and more clear. This time, the word was just dropped, and I knew it was Him. It came almost before I had finished my sentence. I knew it wasn’t me!
Then, He led me to Psalm 119:32: “I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.” Or in other versions, “…for you have enlarged my heart.” Instantly, scene after scene replayed in my mind where He had taken me right through every one of my fears and doubts and then set my heart free. My heart felt like it was being stretched and strained to fit more love and gratitude for my Savior. It was a physical sensation in my chest that has not completely gone away. I could literally feel him enlarging my heart so that it could hold more of Him.
Over the course of the last few months since I chose this word for 2016, I have been constantly amazed at how He continues to speak, sometimes when I least expect it. He knows my timid, hesitant, fearful, doubtful nature that obeys reluctantly or out of duty, worries almost instantaneously, gives up easily and settles for less. He knows I am a fair weather runner and worry about the ground beneath my feet when I run…will it be muddy? snowy? icy? gravel? slippery and insecure? Uncomfortable?
His commands are the ONLY firm path.
And so He has given me another verse, this time from Proverbs 4:18, 25-27, which says, “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day…Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” His commands are the ONLY firm path. Do not worry or hesitate! We can run confidently in them for they are the means by which God sets our hearts free.
I write this to encourage and challenge you to listen to our Father and what He may speak to you this year. What step of obedience is he directing you to run in? I write this to you to ask you to pray for me and join me in running the path of His commands. Like my 4-year-old who cannot fathom running alone on a rainy, wet Saturday morning, I long for all of us to lace up our running shoes and head out together, chasing God, His glory, and His presence actively at work enlarging and setting our hearts free.
Did you like today’s post? Be sure to subscribe to our email list and for a limited time, receive our FREE eBook Overcoming the Darkness, as our thanks to you!
Image Credit: aaron, Creative Commons