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  • 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

I didn't like running

My high school PE coach stopped me on my way to my 4th period class one sunny afternoon.

"Why aren't you running cross country?" She looked me up and down. "You could run for miles with those long legs of yours!"

I grimmaced and gave a weak laugh. "I only run when chased, and that's not often!"

The thought of running miles upon miles for activity and enjoyment has always confused me. Don't people know about the internal combustion engine by now?! Yet every morning and evening, on neighborhood streets and urban parks they are there; running their brains out in the sweltering Houston humidity and lung-chilling winter winds.

WHY?

For some it's easy to tell. Single people have time. A LOT of spare time. Then others are just plain athletic. Then there are New Year's resolutioners who are detirmined to lose that extra fifteen pounds and are back in the freezer digging out the Blue Bell within two weeks. I can't say that I blame them.

Then there's me. Until recently I've had a fairly good metabolism, and I've always tried to eat healthfully with as many whole foods as I can work in (save for that four year stint in college when I subsisted solely on Easy Mac). But lately I've found that there's something missing from my daily routine. Something needed and yet, ridiculous. Excersice. I think I chose running because I dislike it so much, and I didn't understand the logic of wanting to break one's joints and ligaments across yards and yards of concrete. So I not-so-excitedly forced myself to start a couch to 5k regiment.

It began as a love/hate relationship. The first day requires you to do a two minute jog. To me this was more than challenging; it was monumental. The mental and spiritual warfare that went on during those two minutes was intense, and I gasped my way back home when I was finished. I was weak. But now? I've gotten stronger, and I can endure more.

I've also learned a lot. Like there's a reason runners wear leggings with no underwear. Why grass is a better running surface. That dogs really don't like runners. And strangely, that there's a point, just as you start running, where your body seems to seize up into shock and revolt due to the stress.

I was chatting with one of my closest friends yesterday who's also an avid runner, and asked her about this. She said it's a common feeling, even for seasoned runners. That our muscles release an acid in reaction to our sudden burst of movement. She also said that once your body has overcome that rush, that you can literally run for miles (or as long as your endurance permits).

I know it's true, because I've experienced it. Commiting to that threshold and passing it is hard, but then it's easy to take the next few yards. Or blocks. Not miles yet for me - that's still a bit of a reach.

Even so, I look forward to those 20 minutes each evening as the sun sets. It gives me time to pray. It makes me think about the physical anguish that Jesus went through on the cross. It brings me closer to Him. In exchange for my surrender of what I only thought I was capable of, I've been given so much more. Energy. Deep sleep. Wild prayers that God would paint the streets of my neighborhood gold with His glory.

Who knew?

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