Running has always been a part of my life. While I would go through spurts of not running, I always seemed to find my way back to it. After my son was about 10 months old, I laced up my shoes again for my first run in almost two years. So much had changed since my last run. I was a mom now, doing my best to navigate postpartum. Physically and emotionally, things were constantly fluctuating. But, I was ready to get back to this old love of mine.
I started running and took off immediately at a fast pace, feeling good and pushing hard. I knew it wasn’t a sustainable pace for someone who hadn’t been training, but I did it anyway. And sure enough, within a few minutes, I had to stop, walk, and catch my breath. I repeated this cycle a few more times with the same result each time.
Frustrated and feeling defeated, I slowed down to a walking pace again. “I used to be so much faster than this,” I muttered to myself as I looked down at the time on my watch. I used to be able to run this pace with no issues. I knew it had been a while, but I kept remembering what I used to be capable of and what I didn’t seem able to accomplish now.
Running was supposed to be a time where I could perform and prove myself. But, in these cycles, it started to occur to me how much this run mirrored my real life. I set a pace for myself I wasn’t ready for and couldn’t maintain, just like I often did when I depended on my own strength in life and motherhood. I was frustrated and discouraged when my “all or nothing” didn’t give me the results I wanted.
But, in those moments of huffing and puffing and slowing my heart rate down, I realized something so important: I wasn’t following God’s pace for me.
Our relationship with the Lord is a lot like running. We build up our spiritual muscles through time with him in the Word and in prayer. We “run” our daily races, dependent on the strength and sustenance of the Spirit within us. Just like morning mercies, each day’s course will look a little different. It will require different things of us, have different challenges, obstacles, and paces. Each day builds upon the previous day: the things we learned, the struggles we faced, the prayers we prayed.
When we try and set our own pace instead of listening to our body, we very quickly come to the end of our reserves. And in the same way, when we set a pace for our lives relying on worldly endurance or our own strength, we find ourselves tired and empty long before the race is over.
And I’m learning, our daily race isn’t about performance, it’s about perspective. It’s about looking to God and learning to trust his pace for us on the journey. And, we can’t compare today’s race to our previous seasons. We will have times when it feels like we are sprinting downhill with no worries in the world. And, there will also be times when we feel like we are limping off of the starting line with no energy to offer and no idea how we will ever finish.
This race isn’t about speed, it’s about perseverance. It’s not about comparison, it’s about obediently following the Lord’s lead on the path he sets before us each day.
When we allow the Lord to set the pace for our lives, we are trusting him and giving him control. We are believing that he sees our life’s course, and he knows how to equip us for each day’s run. He will lovingly guide us so that we stay within our limits, and he will gently spur us on when we need his encouragement and endurance. He reminds us that his strength is perfected in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV) And, he loves us enough to run our race alongside us, day after day.
The Lord sees our race. In his grace, the Lord lovingly sets our pace.
And whether we are running, walking, or crying out to him, the Lord gives us the endurance we need to step up to that starting line every day and move forward in faith and hope.
So now, whether I’m getting ready to run or to run a household, I remind myself: Trust the Lord. Trust his pace.
“And let us run with perseverance the race marked off for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”