I do not like running. I never have. But lately something strange has happened. I’ve taken up running… I do use that word loosely, but nonetheless, it has happened. It really started with moving to a new location. I have gotten connected with a great group of friends and one of the things we all do together is workout. Running often comes mixed in the routines we do and at first I would just walk that bit of the routine. But slowly I began to run.
Then came the week most of the group was registered to run The Dirty Dash, a mud run. Well, they had one slot left on the team and guess who they talked into running. Yup. But it was a mud run and completely just for fun- no pressure of time or anything like that. So I did it. It was kind of fun. Really challenging for me but fun. And I discovered something: I discovered someone in our group who I could keep pace with really well. Our running level is about the same. It was perfect! But I thought that would pretty much be it for me and running.
Then came the Run for the Hills. A community run for a totally good cause. I had planned on walking in the 5k but as my friend and I talked, we realized we could probably run it together. If we tried on our own, then likely it would not happen, but maybe together… after all, we did the mud run with obstacles! And again, nearly the whole group of friends was registered for the run, so we did it. It was not easy. But we did it! And honestly, I was pretty sure I was done with running until maybe next year’s Run for the Hills. But no.
Most of the group was planning on participating in another community run. I had no intention of participating because of other events on the same weekend. Then something really wild happened about four weeks ago. Some of the group registered for one race but through mass confusion my one friend ended up registered for a different race. Well, she definitely didn’t want to run alone, and I didn’t really want to leave her to run alone because I would never want to have to run alone, so I registered for the Farmstead 5k. And then something even more wild happened… we actually spent time over the four weeks preparing for the run. And we did really well in the run. The rest of our group came out and cheered us on before their race- which was awesome. And we totally shaved off time from the Run For the Hills time. It was great!
At the beginning of the Farmstead I realized something… you see, a college friend had once tried to explain to me the incredible experience of running in a community. I never understood what she was talking about until the Farmstead. As we started running through the corn field, I got it. It was no longer about running. It was about setting out with my community to experience, accomplish, and live life together. (And there is something about physically pushing yourself through running.)
About the time we were running the last 1/4 mile I began thinking about how this parallels with our walk with Jesus. Hebrews 12:1-2 says, 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…. I kept thinking about how following Jesus through life is like a long-distance race. But it is not one we do alone… We have have a community that watches us, cheers for us, and even runs with us. And for us, our goal is Jesus. Do you seen that? “We are surrounded… let us run with endurance… We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus…”
I would never, ever have started running except for my community. It is in community that it has become significant. In the same way, I need to run my race towards Jesus in community. I need to be with other people who will push me, cheer for me, pace with me, and help me keep my eyes on Jesus. Actually, I think that is what we all need… What do you think?