Everyone should have an outlet, a passion, something they love to do just because they love doing it. For me, that is running. It was only 3 years ago that I started running, at the age of 37 and it took hold of me and set me free. It was a gift that God showered down on me at a time in my life when I needed something to give me confidence and joy again. I went from never having run, well, anything, to running and winning 5Ks and then running 10Ks and then right into half marathons. It was a release, an escape, and it even became spiritual for me, as I found myself using the time to talk to God.
In the years that followed, my running ability has steadily declined. My body took a toll that first year, when I went all out. Now, I only run a couple of 5Ks a year and no halfs. Now, I am just grateful if I can get out there and run 3 1/2 miles a few times a week. And I do because it is still a spiritual escape for me, a time when I can talk to God and praise Him, as I look around at nature and take in its beauty.
On a recent weekday run, my mind drifted, as it often does when I run, and I found myself thinking about how good I was doing with various aspects of my job and how strong I felt running. And immediately, I found myself asking God to help me stop exalting myself. I saw right away that I was feeling very in control of my life and it scared me. I have learned, throughout the years, that as soon as I start feeling that power, that control, that praise in my own talents and abilities–that is when everything tends to start falling apart. Because that is when I rely on my own strength, my own abilities, and I stop relying on God. That is not a good place to be. So, I immediately asked, as hard as it was, that God humble me. That I come down from my high point where all I can see is myself and be brought back down to a level where God is my focal point again. It’s not an easy prayer to say, because when I ask to be humbled, it means swallowing my pride–it means defeat in some aspect of my life–and it is a very hard thing to know when you have been defeated and to have to swallow your pride. I know this all too well, as I have watched my running ability ever so slowly be lessened and lessened. That is when you have to rely on God’s goodness and trust that His plan is far better than your own.
I said that prayer a couple of weeks ago and life went on. God answered that prayer just a few days ago. Again, a weekday run. Recently, I had been experiencing some pain in my hip/hamstring area and I was having to take it easy on my running. A regular occurrence these days. I’ve been running with my husband, who only started running with me about a year ago and not steadily until recently. He’s been running to lose weight. Naturally, he’s been a slower runner than I have, since I’d been running longer and was in better shape. Until now. On this run, my husband passed me up. And then, on the next run, my husband passed me up again. How could that be? I’ve run (and won) tons more 5ks, I’ve run half marathons. For 3 years running has been my life. He’s only been running steadily for about a year. How could he be passing me up? It was a blow to my pride. I prayed, again a very hard prayer to say when your pride is wounded, that God help me to be happy for him, to help me let go of the anger and jealousy and pride that I was feeling.
When I got to work that morning I was still feeling so wounded. I put my stuff in my office and then I stood by my desk and suddenly, the poster that I hung up just the day before caught my eye. It was one of those motivational posters, with lots of words on it. But, in the midst of all those words, I only saw one. Humble. The word jumped out and it was all that I could see. And I knew, in that instant, that God was showing me that one word. Suddenly, I remembered that prayer that I said a few weeks ago and God was telling me that He was humbling me. He was humbling me to make me a better person. He was humbling me so that I would once again rely on Him. What a gift He had given me.
Because it’s not about being a number 1 runner. It’s not about being number 1 at your job. It’s about what is number 1 in your life. What is your focal point? What is the one thing you could never live without? Once again, God humbled me so that all of those other things in life that we start to place such a high value on could be put back in their proper place. And I could once again see clearly what is most important. I could once again be made strong in my weaknesses. Knowing that God’s strength is stronger, God’s plan is better, God’s love is bigger.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.–2 Corinthians 12:9