I could hear my feet and tens of other runners’ feet pounding the tarmac, heavy breathing and sighing from every angle. I pushed on, tired but determined, my legs feeling heavy as I jogged upwards. It was my fourth time participating in a marathon, my second in this course that is known to be very tough due to the hilly terrain. I finished the race in about an hour and a half – 10 km of slow jogging interspersed with brisk walking when the ascent got too tough. What a glorious feeling it was to cross the finish line! I remembered my progression – 5Km then 10Km in the Ndakaini half marathon; 10KM then 21 KM in the Standard Chartered full marathon. Each time, I remember feeling buoyed by the thought that each step I took drew me closer to the finish line – I dwelt not on where I had come from, but on where I was headed – the finish line.
I reflected on these experiences and especially how the bible compares our walk with the Lord to running a race, encouraging us to run with perseverance, with our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, the author and perfector of our faith. Sadly, my running experience did not mirror my spiritual race; where there was clear ambition and goals set and pursued to push my distance with each successive marathon, there was, often, complacency and even a sense of apathy in my spiritual walk. Times of regular fasting and prayer had gradually faded, replaced by optional fasting which sometimes did not even last a day. Devotion times had reduced to cursory bible reading and brief ‘God bless me and my family’ type of prayers, sometimes whispered in the comfort of warm covers. I cajoled myself, pleading with my legs and feet to carry me just ‘one more kilometre’ each time I was tempted to give in to discouragement and quit half way through the marathon; not so in my spiritual race, instead, I often made provision for my flesh (Rom 13:14), to gratify its desires for a little more sleep in the morning, a little more food and a little less regard for the lost and hurting in this world.
If I, a mere recreational jogger could be so determined to make progress consistently in physical races just for the experience and satisfaction of ‘finishing the race’ and the joy of building grit, how much more, as a child of God, purchased with nothing less than the most precious blood of Jesus Christ, should I be concerned about ‘working out my own salvation with fear and trembling?’ (Phil 2:12).
Yes, the Lord does indeed work in us to will and to act on behalf of His good pleasure (Phil 2:13). I believe He used my marathon experience to open my eyes to the ennui that had slowly crept into my spiritual life. I can see clearly what I need to do to get on the path to spiritual growth and I believe by God’s strength I will.
Lord Jesus, thank you for enduring the cross for my salvation. Help me to always remember your sacrifice and to never tire of sacrificing earthly pleasures for the ultimate good, your will. Amen.
Tags: #pauseandponder, #spiritualgrowth, #spiritualhealth