I hate running. Ethan, my son, has finally guilted me into running with him a couple of times a week since August. At first, my body screamed with rejection. What are you doing to me!?! The last time I had just run for “fun” was in a year that started with a “19”. Joints creaked. Muscles cramped. Sweat flowed. Ethan, being young and in shape, often ran ahead of me and then ran back to join me. He asked if I minded that he ran ahead, and I said “no, at least you are not literally running circles around me.” He replied “that would mean that you are running faster than me at some point, and that’s not going to happen.” Thanks for that encouragement.

While I still don’t really like it, my tolerance for running has greatly improved. My running times have improved, we are running farther, and I have taken 911 off of speed-dial. I am starting to see the benefits of exercise, and am always glad when I do it.

I have also been reminded of them many places in scripture where scripture refers to running. It is one thing to think about running abstractly. It is another thing to think about these verses when you are actually running.

Heb. 12:1 says this:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us

Running is not something you want to do with lots of extra stuff in your pockets. My wife does make me take a cellphone, but that is all I take with me. Anything else weighs me down. As it applies to life, we often have baggage that we carry through life, and sins that can easily trip us up. We wouldn’t think of running a race with a suitcase or having ropes around our legs that could entangle us. Why would we want to “run” our life’s race that way?

Phil. 3:12-14

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

The temptation in running is want to slow down and not finish strong. Ethan and I are currently running intervals, where you run for a while and walk for a while. It is easy to watch the clock and slow down as the end of the running interval ends. The picture in Phil. 3 is that of the runner “straining” ahead and pressing on toward the goal. There shouldn’t be any coasting in the Christian life. We should all be running hard and finishing strong.

10 comments to Running

  • Troy Coates

    I recently have been facing personal struggles in my character and choices that I have never encountered before. I never thought I would have struggled with things like being viewed as one who complains a lot. Because of an incredibly stressful semester, I have dealt with these new and uncomfortable character flaws, and this discourages me greatly.

    Last night I had a conversation in which I wasreminded of the continual struggles we will face in this life because of the Curse, but also the continuous renewal that the Spirit is working in us through our faith and obedience in Christ.

    This post was another great reminder of that truth. I need to buckle down and rest in God’s righteousness, not my own. When I realize this, worshiping God becomes so much more meaningful. Thank you for the great reminder!

    Ephesians 3:20-21

  • Zachary S Chin

    I completely agree. Sometimes we do find it easy to “coast,” whether it be spiritually, academically or in other areas of life. I think it is also important to understand that when we coast spiritually, it can make us more susceptible to the temptations of sin. The devil is always gunning for us, and being lax in our spiritual lives doesn’t help. This article was great encouragement and a reminder that we need to to keep running and finish strong.

  • Jared Dickerson

    I have recently encountered a stage in my life where I am starting to lose speed in my run. My private time with God has been less beneficial than I would like and it has made me feel discouraged. In a way, I have felt as if I am losing my endurance and it is difficult to keep going sometimes.

    In my Spifo class, we recently talked about how our relationship with Christ is related to a walk and how we are in a race. We can’t go at things in an all-out sprint, nor can we stop when we feel tired. We need pace ourselves so that we can successfully complete the run that we are on.

    This has been a great reminder for me and I have been encouraged to continue in my run with my best effort. Jesus deserves my full attention and effort and I expect to give Him that!

  • Steve Murphy

    Oh how this post takes me back to high school days when I had to train for soccer and improve endurance through long distance running. And now, the last time I ran long distance was at the beginning of this summer, and afterward I felt pretty sick. I was weighing myself down by not actually training. Your comments about not weighing ourselves down with things in our pockets as we run reminds me of 2 Tim. 2:4, which says, “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.” We need to work at not becoming caught up in the things of this world so that we can follow Jesus. The pursuits that we involve ourselves in need to help us serve our purpose as soldiers of God: spreading the gospel.
    In similar fashion to physical running, our spiritual run requires passionate training and guidance from God. We need to train in order to run the race by listening to our coach: God.

  • Mitchell McIntyre

    This post resonates with me greatly. Baggage is a huge hindrance to the race we are called to run and one of my biggest weaknesses is holding on to baggage. There are quite a few things in my past that try to weigh me down as I try to run after God. Rather than looking at the regrets and mistakes of the past we should, as it says in Hebrews, look forward unto Jesus. This passage also reminds us to remember the ones who were faithful that are shown in chapter 11. The reason that all these faith heroes finished strong was because they were looking to Jesus. Sin in my life is constantly trying to trip me up and prevent me from finishing the race I have set out on. Battling sin is a tall task and needs to take place daily but the good news is that God fights with us. This is a great reminder to stay focused and keep enduring.

  • Macy McClain

    Like you, Dr. O, I hate running. The last time I ran, well sort of ran, was at the beginning of the semester for a PACL lab I had to do. I ran about 4 laps and walked the rest of the way due to feeling weak and about to be sick.

    Your post reminded me of the song, “I Have Decided To Follow Jesus”. No turning back, no turning back. The world behind me, the cross before me. Those lines in the song, for me, capture what the Christian life is all about, who we are serving, and why we point people towards Christ. In my own life, I tend to get complacent when tackling sin. Oh, I haven’t done this for a while, so that’s good. Don’t do it again. But then I tend to forget and I get caught up in the sin all over again. Then I think, “Why am I still doing this?” But then I realize that I can’t do things in my own strength, but it is God’s strength that helps me to do what he has set before me. This semester has been really difficult, taking 3 classes that I am not the best at, one that I absolutely hate and makes me want to give up (Math haters, can I get an Amen?) but I need to rest in God’s sovereignty and faithfulness, and that he is using these classes for my good according to his purpose. God is better than any math class, and I will not stop pursuing or chasing after him, because he is more than enough for me, even if it hurts or is exhausting sometimes. Thank you for this encouraging post!

  • Mikayla Bush

    The last part of this post resonates with me greatly. Being a senior, there is a tendency to want to give in to the temptation of laziness and coast through the remainder of the year. When I begin to have this attitude toward my school work, it can easily creep into other aspects of my life such as house chores and spiritual disciplines. I need to remember that no matter what circumstances I’m in or what I may be feeling, I need to press on, be diligent in my spiritual disciplines, and finish strong this semester! Thanks for the great reminder!

  • Melissa Martin

    The Christian life is a race – we are constantly striving and running toward the goal. For me, it sometimes seems as though I will never reach the goal and that the striving will never end. To add to this post, I think it is important to remember that running Christ’s race is one in which we can be confident. We can be confident that the Lord will give us exactly what we need to complete the race. Running is hard for me because I often think I don’t have what it takes to finish. With Christ, we know that he has given us every tool necessary to run faithfully and excellently to the end. We need not worry about running out of strength, because we should rely on his and not on our own. This fact brings me rest in the midst of the striving!

  • Jules Schieferstein

    Like a lot of people here have already mentioned, coasting through life is something I have been struggling with. Unlike a lot of people, I never really seemed to go through a “sophomore slump,” but I am noticing that as this semester goes on, I seem to be facing a “junior slump.” I am not putting as much energy and passion into my academics as I have the previous two years, and I am finding it hard to be motivated. I am having to constantly remind myself that even gen eds, one of the primary sources of my lack of motivation, need to be done for the glory of God, and that even though I may feel burned out at times, I cannot just slow down or coast, but need to keep on running. Anything less than all I can give, is less than what God deserves.

  • Brittney Mitchell

    I am not totally certain that this applies in a biblical sense. However, whenever I read this Hebrews 12 passage I am reminded of my days of swim team. The most popular method of training we used was the dreaded drag suit. The idea was that in training you would wear your competition suit with one to two more worn out suits over top. Sometimes these suits would have holes cut in them or knots tied in them. The idea was to create the most resistance possible. I hated those days. I was a record breaking swimmer, but on the days I wore my drag suit I was 30 seconds behind. But when race day came, I was able to remove my drag suits and wear only my race suit. Those were the days that I was able to break more records than before.

    In a way, this is a visual representation of what Christ has done for me. He’s removed my drag suit. But I didn’t realize what I was missing until i started “swimming” the race without the drag.