Running the Cap-City Half Marathon taught me a few things about myself. Sure, I probably knew most of these things before, but there’s something about the whole experience that brings these spiritual lessons to life.
The First Step Is the Hardest
If you would have told me a year ago that I was going to run 13 miles, I would have said you’re nuts! Signing up, saying “yes” and taking that first step is over half the battle. Isn’t this true in just about any area of life? When I seek to grow or venture into new territory, I can always find excuses. Not now. Not here. I’m too tired. I’ll do it tomorrow. Or maybe next year.
Often, I find myself using these same excuses with God. Don’t you?
I Need a Goal
I need a goal to get me started – to help me take that first step. A goal gets me motivated and focused. As important, a goal gives me a deadline! I don’t know about you, but I work better under pressure – when I know the finish line is within reach. Otherwise, I tend to flounder and lose motivation.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve written down spiritual goals on an annual basis – I find when they’re specific (and time-driven) I’m less likely to get off track.
Short-cuts Don’t Work
There’s no magic formula. Training is hard work. Period. There’s no multi-vitamin or energy drink that’s going to get you ready. It’s practice, practice, and more practice. And you need to follow the training plan. (I found this out around mile 10 when I thought to myself, boy, I wish I wouldn’t have skipped those long runs!)
My spiritual life follows a similar pattern. I keep asking God, “Can’t you just make this road easier? Where is the short cut!” But he continues to show me that the journey is part of my training.
I Need a Purpose
It’s not just about me. I need a bigger purpose. And, while I know others who run to “lose weight” I just can’t get motivated solely by pounds and inches. I’m all for a healthy lifestyle (and, clearly, health and fitness played a huge role in my motivation), but running for orphans with team Doma gave me a purpose to cross the finish line.
My spiritual well runs dry when I become self-absorbed. But the more I give to others – the less it’s about me – the more I’m driven to continue.
No Pain No Gain
Talk about pain! I was sore – I mean really sore – for a couple of days. But I’d do it all over again. Next time, I’ll probably take my training a bit more seriously, but I’ll also know to expect the pain and discomfort. Nobody said it was going to be easy!
It’s often through pain and trials that we draw near to God. Just this year, I’ve watched friends (and many of you) suffer much loss – a broken marriage, a bout with cancer, an unexpected death of a loved one. It seems like this pain is part of our training. But, yes, it still hurts!
Has physical training (and pain!) taught you anything about spiritual growth? Can you relate to these lessons – purpose, practice and pain – in your own life?