Just Keep Running

18s0e9b92ewrgjpg

The other morning, I went for a walk around my neighborhood. As I made my way down the street, I noticed a couple of runners coming towards me. I stepped aside as they passed and I noticed they were teenagers. I didn’t think anything of it until a couple of minutes later when three more headed my way. I again stepped aside and put two and two together and realized it must be track practice or something. As I kept walking, I noticed one last runner. He was a bit behind all the others and all by himself. His running was much more labored and his facial expressions revealed his struggle. For a brief second or two I felt bad for him. But then his dedication inspired me. Although he wasn’t as fast or as smooth as the others, and even though he lagged behind his teammates, he kept running.

As I passed him, I couldn’t help but see a picture our lives in his morning run. As we run the race of life, many run faster than we do. They run smoother and more eloquently than we ever could. They seem to stride effortless and keep moving forward while we stumble and stagger around. And, as they glide ahead, we labor and struggle as we try to keep moving forward. We fall way back of the pack all the while wondering if the race is worth it. But, we have to keep running.

The author of Hebrews writes, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1 ESV).  His words remind us that the Christian  life calls for endurance. It’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon. It’s a cross country race with hills and valleys and twists and turns. The terrain is difficult. The challenge is real. Our lungs burn and our legs ache. But, we must keep running. Don’t worry about how far behind the others you are. Don’t give up because your pace is slower. Don’t quit because your form isn’t as good or your stride isn’t as graceful. Don’t stop. Dig deep. Breathe hard. Put one leg ahead of the other. Just keep running.

Advertisements

Through the Valley

Middleburg Heights, OH: Satuday In The Park- walking path at Lake Isaac Waterfowl SanctuaryMost evenings, my wife and I like to take a walk around our neighborhood. We have a variety of routes we take depending on how long we want our walk to last. Some nights our walks are quick ten minute jaunts around the block. Other nights they’re two or three mile excursions. Our route depends on any number of circumstances. Some nights we don’t have as much time as others. Some nights the weather impacts our choice. Some nights we may not feel particularly well or perhaps we ate too much for dinner that night. The circumstances may vary, but we keep walking. And, some walks are longer than others.

Life is the same way. Every season of our lives…every walk is touched by different circumstances. Some are short and over very quickly. Others drag on and on and seem without end. Some walks are longer than others.

One of the more familiar passages of Scripture is the twenty-third Psalm. In it, the song-writer (Psalms are ancient songs) David talks about walking through the valley of the shadow of death. We often connect this verse to the grief and pain associated with death, and that’s a fair application. Many commentators, however, suggest that the valley could describe any of life’s more difficult circumstances. So, it would be fair to say that some of the more difficult seasons of life could be described as such a valley. And, as we all can attest, many times these walks through the valley last much longer than we’d like.

As we reflect on this verse, notice that the we are not alone in this journey. The good shepherd guides us. He is with us. He comforts us. Despite the duration of the season and the depth of the valley, we don’t face it by ourselves. We don’t have to rely on our own strength to get through it.

Notice too that we are to keep walking. We don’t stop. We don’t quit. We keep moving forward. When the shadows are dark and the journey seems unending, keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep trusting the One who guides and comforts us. Know that Jesus is with us and He will bring us through. Just take one more step.. Yes, some walks are longer than others, but with every step we take know that we’re one step closer to emerging from the shadows.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4 ESV)