How many times have we heard the word, ‘run’? It has become the catch phrase for movies…”Run Forrest, run!” and Forrest Gump ran straight across America. He had no reason, he just did what he was told, run. There are children’s stories that involve a great deal of running, my favourite has to be “Run, run as fast as you can. You can’t catch me I’m the Gingerbread man.” Poor fella, if he had kept on running and not rested upon the snout of a fox, he may very well still be running.
As a teacher I am forever telling students to stop running or they may hurt themselves. We make a run for it when it starts raining or we need to take a gap. Someone may make the coffee run for morning tea. Running is part of what we do. Sometimes we run around like a lost chicken, we run away, run to, run from, run into, run under and over or are run over. Running is not unfamiliar to any of us. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul writes the following.
(24)Do you not know that those who run in a race indeed all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way as to obtain it. (25) And everyone who competes controls himself in every way. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown, but we for an incorruptible crown. (26) Therefore I run accordingly, not with uncertainty. Thus I fight not as one who beats the air. (27) But I treat my body severely and make it my slave, lest having proclaimed to others, I myself might be rejected.
I am not going to proclaim that I am a great athlete, by no means, but I do enjoy running. I recall as a little girl accompanying my dear Uncle Harvey to his races. He would sit in the car and eat a few bars of chocolate, down some water and be pumped. In my mind at that time I began to think that if you wanted to eat a lot of chocolate all you had to do was run…impressionable years. Uncle Harvey would run for hours, he would run up a mountain pass in Cape Town called Ou Kaapse Weg (Old Cape Way) just for fun. He would be up and out before our dreams had ended. I can never recall him moaning about pain or cramps and the only memory I have of him injuring himself was when he ran into a speed bump in the dark – it was a massive mound of dirt across the road and he came off second best. He made me think that running was not hard on the body. I now know better.
When you run you need gear, good running shoes that support your feet. Running shoes are essentials when running and bad shoes can cause you hours of pain and bring you grief. Then there are clothes, comfy clothing that does not restrict your movement, some runners use clothing that supports the muscles, compression clothing. I always have a giggle when I see ‘fashion runners’ they are dressed to the nines in the latest active wear and smell as if they have just walked out of perfume shop but there is no intent to run the race, they are merely parading. I am of the opinion that when you really run not even a good outfit can make you look good, it becomes sweaty and smelly and generally runners are red-faced sticky beings that nobody wants to be too close to – depending on distance and intensity of the run.
The best bit of gear I bought was a sports watch that keeps track of my steps (cadence), distance, speed and heartrate. This watch tracks me using GPS and keeps record of each run. The feature that makes this watch an essential running companion is it monitors my heart beat. You see we can all run, but if you start getting into running you soon discover it is a science all on its own. The best way to get fit is to monitor your heart rate and to stay within a zone. This got me thinking about my walk with Yeshua.
Paul tells us to run the race so to win it. He goes on to say that we need to control ourselves in every way to gain the incorruptible crown and to run with a certainty. I started to think about the way I run, the things I do and then equated that to my spiritua life. When you set out for a run, you have an idea, a goal, of where you want to run to, personally if I am going to run a 12km then I can visualise the turning point, the road and the paths that I will take. I have to get my head straight and make sure I am ready to run that distance. You don’t get up and decide that 12km sounds like a cool number and off you go. If you are a marathon runner then 12km is a warm up distance before you get into the real run – each of us runs to achieve a goal (runs to win). We are all at different stages in life, different stages of maturity in our walk with YHWH. What I am trying to communicate it is that you start a run with certainty, you have a goal in mind and you set out to achieve that goal (distance). I am of the opinion that too many of us doubt the power of the Set-Apart Spirit of Truth working through us. We are not certain about the power of our standing as sons and daughters of the Living Most High, we doubt ourselves and doubt our ability in Christ Jesus and because we are uncertain we don’t run. Jesus said to His disciples (to us) in John 14:12-13, “The truth is, anyone who believes in Me will do the same works I have done and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask anything in My Name, and I will do it because the work of the Son brings glory to the Father.”
When you start running it is not easy, you find even a kilometer an effort. But if you strap on a heart rate monitor it is easier. You work out where your heart rate should be and for six weeks you keep your heart rate within a zone. Soon you are going further and faster and your heart beats within that zone – you are becoming fitter. To become fit you do need to persevere and push your body through cramps and soreness, but it is all part of making your body able to run the race. This is the control that Paul speaks of. It is hard when your legs are jelly and you just want to stop, but what a feeling of elation when you manage to push through, even if it means you walk a while, but you keep on moving towards your goal. I spoke to someone in training for an ironman and he told me that when he trains he sometimes runs past two lamp posts then walks until the next one, sometimes we just need to catch our breath.
One morning I got up and decided to do a 15km run. I knew where I was running to and had my gear. I knew where my turn-around point was so 7.5km out I still felt great and decided to run on a bit. At 9km I became enthusiastic and thought that just 1km would give me 20km. I had never thought that this distance was possible, but now it seemed in my sight. I made the 10km turning point and was feeling very proud, after all I had run 10km many times. The punishment lay ahead though, 10km home. I had water stops on the way back and knew that every step was a step closer to home. I had no mobile phone with me, besides hubby had gone cycling so there was not rescue. I just had to dig deep and as Paul writes, “treat my body severely and make it my slave.” I run along cliffs in the beautiful Sunshine Coast of Australia, so the scenery distracted me from the pain. Then at 19.5km I hit the wall. I was running behind a couple walking their dog, the getnleman kept on stepping aside to make room for me to pass, but I just could not pass. Eventually they stopped and as I shuffled past them I managed to utter, ” I have no energy left”. The next 500m were agonising. I had to talk to myself, out loud, to keep going. I could feel the cramps and felt very light-headed. Then the house loomed ahead and I knew I was going to make it home. After a shower, some muscle rub and a few litres of water I began to feel better. You see I had not prepared myself for that distance. I had not hydrated my body the day before, had not eaten enough and although I was not stiff or sore from the run, had not prepared my feet and ended up losing a toenail and another one badly bruised.
Running is not only about the gear and moving our legs, keeping your heart rate in a zone, but it is more importantly abut feeding yourself so you have the energy to go the distance. It is about stocking up with healthy foods, drinking lots of water and having snacks with you that will sustain your energy levels and support you on the run. Jesus told us that we can’t live on bread alone, we need to eat from the Living Word, drink from the Streams of Life. We can’t run the race without sustaining our spirit with His Word, withouth being Spirit filled. In Ephesians 6 we read about putting on the amour of Elohim so that we can stand against wickedness and have power to run and recieve an uncorruptible crown. So when you think of running a spiritual race, gird your waist with Truth, put on a breast plate of righteousness, for shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that you will be fully prepared. Take up the shield of belief so that you have power to quench all the burning arrows of the wicked one, take up the helmet of deliveranceand the sword of the Spirit, which is the Words of Elohim. This is the ‘gear’ that is given to us as children of the Most High, we just need to put it on. It is not fashioned by the world, it may not be cool, but it is what will help you run a race, a race that leads Home where your uncorruptible crown awaits you. Some Christians wear armour that has been remodelled to make it seem more fashionable, but they are parading. I have many times worn this and I fall short daily, but the Loving-commitment of YHWH and His amazing grace sets me on the right path again, once I recognised and repent.
There is also something speacial about having a heart rae monitor. I believe we should all be close enough to YHWH to hear His Heart, to know His Heart and that He should smile when He hears our heartbeat for His cause and Loving-committment to us. We need to be intune to the Father’s Heart, we can only do this by being close to His heart. You wear a heart rate moinitor on your chest, this way you get an accurate reading. To be close the YHWH’s heart we need to spend time in His prescence, we need to listen, to feel and to be alert.
Make my steps fall in line with Your way and will. May my heart beat in Your zone, to Your beat. As I run this race may I fill my spirit with Your Truth, drink from steams of living water. May I run the race and make it Home to receive my uncorruptible crown. Amen