I am not a runner. But I admire people who are. I would like to be a runner. Except for that fact that becoming a runner would require me to, well, run.
I am the epitomy of everything you should not do to become a runner. I follow no schedule whatsoever. I wait for a day when I am entirely stressed and have been sitting hunched over a desk for way too long. Then I leap out the door and pound the pavement until I am completely exhausted. In other words, about a quarter of a mile. I then can’t move for three days.
I have friends who are runners. Impressive runners: trail racers, half-marathoners, full marathoners, high altitude sprinters. At 7000 feet I can’t even stand up without having to pause and catch my breath. Forget about running. These people amaze me. Because I (as many of you have heard me say) am training for a 5K the way most people train for a marathon. It is a life’s goal that is going to take me most of my life to get there. Except, of course, that my “training” is not really training at all.
My friends give me advice. Good advice. They show me stretches. They talk about posture and conservation of motion and momentum. They say I should set a known distance and see how long it takes me to cover it. “Run and walk it as needed,” the say, “and over time you will find yourself running more and walking less.” Enough of my running friends have told me this that I think it must be true. I’ve just never actually tried it. Until recently.
Yes, that’s right. A few days ago, I actually chose one of my favorite trails at a local park that, according to the map, is about 2 miles long. And I ran it in… are you ready for this?
Now to be fair, I stopped midway through for a solid 3 minutes because my shins were killing me and I needed to stretch them out. So if I subtract that time, I averaged about a… 15 minute mile. And that, my friends, is why even when I am “running” I get lapped by the speedwalkers.
The interesting thing about this, though, is that it was a rather spur of the moment thing. I needed to go for a run, and I decided that this time, this is how I was going to do it. And yet at the same time, it did not feel like a spur of the moment thing at all. I’ve been doing my haphazard “training” for three years now. I’ve been hearing my friends’ advice, even though they probably think I’m ignoring them entirely. Perhaps the last friend that said “Set a distance and run it.” finally pushed me over the edge. Perhaps years of fermentation finally generated some action. Perhaps I just plain had a day where I needed this particular type of distraction, where I needed to feel that strange kind of connection that occurs when you actual heed the repeated advice of your friends.
All of this makes me think of another kind of advice, another kind of fermentation, and another kind of friend. How often do we share the word of God with another to seemingly no effect? Or how often are we ourselves the recipient? Perhaps you are not yet a Christian. You hear the words, you watch others running their race, but you have not yet heeded their advice. Or perhaps you’re already a Christian but are – as we will continually do – still growing in your faith. Perhaps there is one particular area you’re struggling with right now, and friends around you are either knowingly or unknowingly speaking the advice you need to hear. Perhaps you are watching someone else running a particular path you aspire to. You want to get there, but your training seems haphazard and sporadic.
Take heart! God is at work in all of our lives. In those to whom we minister, and in us when we ourselves are being ministered to. Nothing is ever wasted. We are impacting one another more than perhaps we ever realize. Every step, every word along the way, leads to where we are going.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay (Habakkuk 2:3).