*I started writing these up several months ago. And as I contemplated the content, I thought it would be fun to pair each post with one of my favorite running jams. So at the end of each blog you’ll find a song and I just want you to imagine me run-dancing, lots of arm flailing, and basically me looking pretty ridiculous because I can in the privacy of my bedroom on the treadmill. Just yes.*
I am a runner,… or at least I once was.
As I laced up my worn down running shoes and prepared to hop on my treadmill for the first time in months, I started evaluating my current physical state. In the past when I have taken time off from running I always get back into it with certain expectations. I tell myself things like “You’ve run two marathons you should at least be able to make it x amount of miles in x amount of time” or “It hasn’t been THAT long since you’ve run I mean what’s three months?” or “It’s mostly a mental battle Katie, think confident thoughts.” In case you’re wondering, “Will she delude/coach herself with just about anything?” The answer is, “Yes!” I hop on the treadmill and begin at a comfortable pace which quickly becomes very uncomfortable and I realize that to even make my bare minimum mileage it is going to be slow and painful. When confronted with this reality I find myself having to make a choice:
I can quit as soon as discomfort sets in, hop off my treadmill, and continue deluding myself by thinking that because I ran a decent marathon a couple years ago that makes me a runner forever, yay! Here’s to never running again!
I can accept the fact that while I did run a great race or two in the past, I have not been disciplined in my running for a while. If I want to call myself a runner there needs to be consistent evidence of it. I need to, well…run!
And it hit me. I have also been here in my walk with Christ. I’m sure I’m not the first person to ever write about the parallel of athletics and faith. Nope, that credit goes to the Apostle Paul, but I want to share a series of blog posts about those parallels that God laid on my heart several months ago. And this first one is:
Evaluate your relationship with Christ honestly and frequently.
2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.
Hebrews 3:12-14 Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.
Here are some questions I have had to ask myself:
What’s your condition? Is God’s peace ruling your heart? Are you disciplined? Do you enjoy and carve out time with your Maker consistently? Would people around you clearly see evidence of a life surrendered to Christ?
Or is it like your running? Calling yourself a Christian and yet there is little to nothing that would set you apart today as a Christ follower? You once had tasted and seen that the Lord was so good. You were training hard, meeting with Him daily, asking Him to challenge and grow you, to make you stronger, faster, steadier for His purposes for your life. You reached the “mountain” of the marathon, but now that’s a distant memory. You let “ordinary” life and worldly distractions creep in. Gradually you slacked off with training and making that time with the Lord important and vital for everyday life.
I have found that it can be quite difficult to be honest with myself about where I am spiritually (and apparently physically, lol). If we can’t evaluate ourselves honestly, if we can’t call ourselves out and confess where we are wrong, we will continue down a dangerous road of self-deception. Oh how I have been there!
Let’s get honest with ourselves and God about our condition. If we’re out of shape (like me in running!) let us confess our sins, “He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us…” (1 John 1:9) and repent of where we have been lazy, undisciplined and uncommitted. It’s the first step in the right direction in the Christian race.
Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.