Sunday, November 18, 2012
The air was thick with excitement, adrenaline, nervous chatter, and the sound of “The Black-eyed Peas’ ‘Tonight’s gonna be a good night’”. I looked down at my bib number and could not believe I was standing there, just seconds away from starting a 13.1 mile run. It seemed like only yesterday that I was filling out the Half Marathon application online. However, it was not yesterday, it was early August when I agreed to sign up and run the race with a co-worker. I printed off the training schedule and was happy to see that I had about 2 weeks before training began. The schedule quickly reminded me of my marathon training. For 5 months, I ran 4 times a week with longer runs getting up into the high teens (14,15,18 miles). I never missed a run, and it was amazing to see what a trained body can do. I remember later into the training, looking at the schedule, breathing a sign of relief and saying, “oh, it’s only a 12 mile run this weekend, that’s easy.” Then I would go on that run and find myself barely tired at the end. Training for that marathon was by far the most dedicated I’ve been to anything in my life. As a result, my marathon was fairly easy. I never hit a “wall”, I never walked, and I felt fairly good the entire time. (well, except for after I stopped when my legs wanted to cramp up into tiny little balls causing me to walk for another hour after the race lol). Because I strictly followed the training schedule, I finished 26.2 miles in 4 hours 45minutes (11 minute miles) without any injuries. Pretty cool what the body can do when you give it the appropriate training huh!?
So, looking at half that distance, 13.1miles, did not seem all that bad. Especially since I’ve been known to go run 5 miles randomly and be ok. As the weeks progressed and I got into my training weeks, I started running a couple miles here and a couple miles there. I would get home tired from work and would promise myself I would do my missed run tomorrow. Well the tomorrow runs never came. In fact, I didn’t run for a whole month before I was standing at that 13.1mile start line! I bet you can guess what happens next.
It was about 50-55 degrees and sunny…awesome! The winds were about 20-25mph…not so awesome and most of the run was completely out in the country. The first 4 miles I felt great, nice music, strong legs, wind blocked by local houses….nice run. Then I entered the country with nothing to block the wind. Mile 6 was with the wind. The mile 7 sideways wind kept trying to pull my ear buds out. Then came mile 8…..nothing but heading straight into the wind. There was a lady in front of me walking and even though I was still running, I couldn’t catch up to her! I gave in to the wind and started walking. This repetition started happening: run…walk…run….walk…shove the ear buds back in…run…walk. At one point, I shut off the music, took out the ear buds and said, “God, what do you want to teach me….I know there’s a lesson in here somewhere, what is it?”. (kinda bossy of me I know!) Then, I started praying, “Lord, you made these winds and I believe you have the power to make them stop. Could you please just let them stop for just another couple hours while I finish this race?”. Do you think they stopped?....Nope. And by no way is this a reflection of inadequate power of our God. Sometimes God allows the wind to batter us until we are broken. We may be begging for the strong winds of our lives to stop, but God’s plan is higher and mightier than our cries. Trust me, He hears us, but He knows that sometimes we need to go through the valley first before we can stand in awe on that holy mountain. For example, in this case, if God would have ceased the winds, I would have missed the main message He had for me on that day. God was exhausting me in order to teach me something.
So I continued the struggle, I didn’t give up despite the continued presence of the “Salvation Army” van riding back and forth picking up runners who have had enough. Which reminds me: sometimes when you are battling a fierce wind in your life…you may see an easy way out…one that goes against truth and against the life you know God is calling you to lead. Whatever you do don’t get in that van and believe the lie….it is much better to struggle with Christ by your side, then to get comfortable and complacent apart from Christ. “Consider it joy when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” James 1: 2-3. And let me tell you that Paul was absolutely right when he said that “the sufferings of this present time are noting compared to the glory that is to be revealed to us” Romans 8:18.
At mile 11 my physical body shut down. My calves wanted to completely tear apart, my knee was shot, my hip felt like I had a knife wedged in it. I walked the last 2 miles until right before the finish line. When I crossed, my body was done for. One and a half years ago I had run a full marathon, and now after running just half of that, I couldn’t even find the energy or strength to drive home!
What I learned was this: sometimes God, because He is all powerful, allows us to do miraculous things in an instant. But more times, He demands us to be faithful. Because I was faithful to my marathon schedule, God allowed me to finish with relative ease and peace. I was faithful in the big race, but I was faithless in the small. My pride told me a lie and I listened to it: “because this race is smaller, you should be just fine, you can let your training slide a little. You’re busy, you have better things to do. What can it hurt?” Well, it hurt a lot!
God demands us not only to be faithful in the big things in our lives, but also in the small day to day things because each “yes” to God builds up our and endurance and our faith so that we can be fruitful and we can move mountains. We must not think, “I got this”. God said, “No, Heidi, You don’t ‘got this!’ and now I’m going to show you why.” If you don’t allow God into your small plans and the small aspect of your life, why would he trust you with the big? “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much” Luke 16:10. Those small, faithless acts may end up causing more hurt than good. I learned that today, one week after the race as I stepped out for just a short 2 mile run. About two blocks into the run, my calves began to burn and I had to stop. I seriously had injured myself last week and my body told me today that it needs more time to heal. Just 3 days after my marathon, I went for the same short run and had the most powerful and exhilarating run of my life! I felt like I was superwoman, that’s how strong I felt. With the right training, the right mindset, and a devoted prayer and relationship with Jesus, you can and you will bring Glory to the Kingdom as He makes you stronger than you ever thought possible by His grace pouring out to his faithful servant.
God is so good to us, and He always wants to teach us something. I wonder how many times I’ve missed invaluable lessons all because I don’t truly believe God is crucial in the small stuff.
I’ll leave this with a really cool song that I rediscovered as I was exhausting my body on the road! Enjoy!