As most of you know, Wes and I began a regular running routine back in March. Since then, we’ve run a 5K, a 10K, and a half marathon, all in preparation for the “big one” — a full marathon that we’re scheduled to run next January. We’re SO excited about where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re heading in our running…
… but you’d never guess it if you just happened to see what I look like during that first mile. I’m not a morning person as it is, so it’s nothing short of a miracle that I’m out of bed just after sunrise, hitting the pavement. And “hitting” is the right word — I plod along without any grace or agility, thinking “ow, ouch, ow, ouch” with every footfall. Mile one is no fun for me, as my body wakes up and fights against what I’m doing. I once heard another runner say of his perspiring brow, “That’s not sweat. My fat cells are just crying.” If this is true, mile one makes my fat cells sob, and as I try to keep it all out of my face, I think to myself, “I hate this sport!”
Then, something happens. Mile one is done, and with it, the soreness starts to ebb away, the pace picks up, and my attitude improves significantly. Getting started is, without a doubt, the HARDEST part of running, at least for me. By mile ten, I’m pumping my fists in the air, telling myself, “I love this sport!”
And then, I wake up the next morning. And I’m right back to where I was. Mile one, all over again.
Maybe I’m unusual, but it’s a constant struggle to keep at this. It’s a challenge to stay disciplined in this because nothing about long distance running comes naturally to me. My body and my attitude fight against the running schedule, and it’s only when I commit to it, in spite of how I feel, that it becomes possible.
I think walking with Christ is a lot like this. I’d love to tell you that I’m one of those people who naturally radiates the joy of the Lord and who, in the very deepest sense, always has the mind, heart, and attitude of Christ. But those people just don’t exist. I’m convinced of this because scripture says it very plainly — there is NO ONE who does good, not one. On our own power and in our own strength, we are without hope, struggling through “mile one” of our walk with Christ, our fleshly selves fighting against the discipline, obedience, and godliness that God’s Spirit is working out in us. We are hopeless without Christ, incapable of any good without Him, unable to even call on Him without His enabling us to do so.
And while this sounds like bad news, it’s absolutely freeing. Mile one is a beast, as we struggle with our own sinful natures, knowing that as we continue to fight the good fight and walk with Him in obedience, even though we struggle, He will make it possible for us to run all the other miles in victory. Sure, we’ll probably wake up the very next day with the same inclinations towards sin, but we can trust that Christ is victorious in even this and that we can rejoice in the humility our struggles impart in us and how this gives Christ’s redeeming work even greater glory.
So, even though it doesn’t come naturally and even though everything in me fights against it at times, I will get up and run tomorrow. And I will walk with Christ.