As strange as it may sound to many of you, the most exciting thing in my life right now is my running group. You may feel sad for me and suggest I get a life, I totally understand. Though I'd like to add disclaimers, such as, life is great at home with my loving husband and beautiful daughters and that I am learning great, hard lessons about being a follower of Christ, but the fact remains about the exciting part.
And on top of that if I were to evaluate the last few months of my life, I'd find it below average in many other areas... social outreach, church involvement, professional milestones, personal development and often parenting. Almost as if I have taken a sabbatical from these... except the last one of course, no sabbatical there!
But apart from family responsibilities and a weekly Bible study in Revelation, if anything is keeping me on my toes, almost literally, it's my running group. These four women have inspired me way more than I'd have expected or hoped for from a running group. I know I have already written about them once before but that was too brief and I just can't help but gush about these wonderful women when I get a chance.
The best part is that each of them inspire me in very different ways. One has been battling health issues for a long time, either herself or in her family or close friends and yet has time to encourage others through prayer, visits and sharing testimonies, all with a smile. Another has various church and ministry commitments and yet is the most disciplined in the group with her regular (early morning) runs and includes her family in all the fun. And another is constantly hosting house guests and still manages to attend bible studies, meet/visit and pray with friends, share the gospel and then go back to host more guests. The last one always adds excitement and cheerfulness to the group, even when she's taking care of her family and manages to participate in runs despite all obstacles.
So it's not just the running that encourages me about this group, it's the fact that we are there for each other, to share our concerns, worries, achievements, joys and all kinds of experiences.
Though I used to be an athlete during my school and college days, I have learnt(the painful way) that getting back to running at this age, more than a decade since college and after two kids, is not as easy as I thought it would be. I have experienced all sorts of pain in places I couldn't even name before, joints, muscles, ligaments and everything in between. Had it not been for this group and my husband, I might have given up after the first run itself.
Now, the main reason for me to write about my running experience is to be able to encourage you in your race, and it may not be the 'running' kind.
Your race is marked out just for you
God may have placed you in a race to be a true friend, a tolerant wife, a patient mother, a business woman of integrity, a courageous social worker or wherever you are at right now. You are called to a race that is unique. It is in this unique race that you can give Christ glory and inspire someone with your testimony like perhaps no one else can. Others are running their own races, each with her own gifts and struggles. And often only someone who has run a very similar race can give you useful tips and advice on how to finish it well, because they have been there. So also, you may be in this race to be an encouragement for someone else who is soon to follow on a similar course.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us..." Hebrews 12:1
There will be lonely stretches along the course
My latest run was my first 10km one. It taught me that to achieve my personal best, I sometimes had to leave the comfort of a fun group of runners and embark on a lonely stretch to be able to catch up with a faster, smaller group of runners. The longer the run, the longer the lonely stretch could be. But one has to keep on keeping on, remembering that there are others on the same track, some in front while some behind. Some will welcome you at the finish line and you get to welcome some when they finish. While I don't want to get too used to being on the lonely stretches, I welcome them knowing that often that's when I have the closest communion with my Creator.
There is a medal for all finishers
This is definitely one thing most run organisers have got right. Whether you are first or last, you get a medal as soon as you cross the finish line. I think that's just great. Because while there are many seasoned runners, who whizz past, there are some who are new and yet made an attempt to get on the track and simply run. Just how I need to leave aside my petty hang-ups and get on with what God is doing in the larger scheme of things. And some day, when I finish my race, I too will receive my medal.
I have seen something else under the sun:
The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favour to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.
And so let each of us run our respective races to the best of our abilities, encouraging one another, so that God may be honoured and smile at us when He meets us at the finish line.
Photo Credit : Unsplash