A few years ago, I spent a summer training for a half marathon. That year, life was in shambles. Stress and worry consumed me, and I was facing challenges unlike anything I’d ever encountered. Every move I made was calculated to try to regain peace, but my belief in self-reliance was wavering as summer approached.
That summer at home began as it always does, with a 10k that happens every Memorial Day. I was walking through the race expo, eyeing all the runners. They had an energy in their step that I craved. Hope was palpable. I walked up to a running club’s tent, asked a few questions, and signed up on a whim to train for a half marathon, a distance I’d never imagined I’d ever take on.
I woke up every Saturday at six in the morning that summer, tied up my laces and drove out to the trail. I’d greet my running buddies between yawns, and off we’d go for three miles, five miles, twelve miles, talking about life and love everything in between. Running became my sacred time. Every other moment of the day was shrouded in hardship, but the few hours I spent with my feet on the pavement were full of light and trust and healing.
Looking back, I realize how serendipitous that season of life was. A moment in time that cannot be recreated. I have tried, I assure you. Life will get hard again, and I’ll think, This can be solved by another half marathon, only to quit after two weeks. I trick myself into thinking that I have all the answers, and the reason why light overtook the darkness of that summer was because I was in control.
I am solution hungry, a problem solver, a rescuer. When times get tough, I immediately rack my brain for the steps to take that will soothe my worries and iron things out. I like to be in control. I like the routine of a wake up time, a planned breakfast, a training schedule.
Here’s the thing: running requires trust and acceptance. What is before you is all there is. A cadence of one foot in front of the other, a breeze between your fingers as they glide back and forth against your body, the sky above you and the road beneath you.
It is in these sacred moments when it becomes apparent that reliance on God is the only way forward. Times get tough, my body starts to hurt, my heart is pounding and I am out of breath – but somehow, I am still running. I am still moving, I am still alive. No self-made solution will ever equal the sustenance that God provides when I give up control and let life come as it will.
It is easy to forget about the sweat and the tears and the pain, and how God lit the path before my feet that summer, not me. But the important thing to remember is that no matter how many times we mess up and think we can fix it on our own, God always shows up, always turns the light on, always sets up a half marathon training tent. We can and will say, “I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me?”
“The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.” (Romans 7:25, The Message)
No matter the challenge, no matter our belief that we can do it all on our own, God shows up. His peace cannot be manufactured. The hope we crave, the energy we long for, is a product of the faithful One’s desire to shower us with love, to teach us about perseverance, to reveal to us the sacredness of life, of the bodies we have, the bodies he resides in, the bodies that can and will keep moving.