I hate running. I’d rather watch FRIENDS reruns than pound the pavement any day. I hate sweating. I hate my lungs burning and gasping for air. I hate how sore I get. And I believe with all of my heart that workout clothes are just as useful for a lazy Saturday afternoon as they are for the gym. But…I want to be healthy and running makes me feel healthy. And not just physically healthy, but running makes me feel spiritually healthy too. The physical and the spiritual are connected and it seems that so often we forget that truth. God created both and calls us to care for both.
Recently I didn’t want to run, but I headed out anyway. I was struggling just blocks in. I like to talk with God on my runs. I run late in the evening when the air is cooler and the streets are quieter. (An ulterior motive is that there are fewer people out and about which means fewer people to watch me waddle along. See above photo!) Despite my dislike for physical movement, going out on a run does give me a great opportunity to talk with God while admiring part of His creation as I try to take care of part of His creation (me). However, so often when I come to God my mind is so cluttered and busy that I have a hard time finding a single topic to talk with Him about. And so in the midst of the physical and spiritual struggle, I confessed to God that I had lots of things I wanted to ask Him about and no idea where to begin. And I might have reminded Him that I hate running…
And then the strangest thing happened. Jesus was running next to me. No, not physically, but I could feel Him. And maybe not running as much as walking, maybe even floating, alongside me. (I can’t quite get my head around the idea of Jesus actually running hard enough to work up a sweat. I’m sure I’m slow enough that Jesus is more than capable of keeping up with me walking.) Nevertheless, Jesus was beside me and he stayed by my side for every painstaking step. At the end, when I wanted to quit, he held my hand. And I made it. In Christ’s strength, not my own.
On second thought, maybe Jesus running beside me isn’t that strange after all. I mean, doesn’t He always show up at our weakest moments? And isn’t it always through our weakness that He is most glorified? 2 Corinthians 4:7 says, “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us.” I must admit that I’ve always focused on the “jars of clay” portion of the verse. It’s so easy to focus on our weaknesses. I mean they are so obvious, well, at least mine are! But God is teaching me to read the whole verse and to notice what comes next, “this all surpassing power”. Honestly, most of the time I try to hide my weaknesses, but like I eluded to, that’s hard to do when they are so obvious! And maybe that’s another reason that I don’t like to run, I’m not good at it. It’s hard! But we don’t have to hide because when we rely on Jesus to show up when we are feeling weak, He does and His name is made great. God has granted us the great freedom of being authentic in both our shining moments and our ugly (and in my case sweaty and whiny) weak moments. We don’t have to hide, but we do have to rely on God. And if we do that, we get to run with Jesus.