my search to understand the bigger picture

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What Running Has Taught Me About Life

Ups and Downs.

Life has them both. It really can be one big roller coaster ride where one minute you're climbing this steep mountain that seemingly has no end in sight, and next thing you know you've reached the top and are now hurtling downward at unimaginable speeds only to be met with twists, turns, and more hills to climb. This is an analogy that we are all too familiar with.

Running, it seems, is another analogy that seems to share some striking similarities. Amongst other things, I've learned with running that by and large, the more I put into it, the more I get out of it. However, even when I've been in my best shape, I still have good days and bad days. In fact, running Comrades Marathon last year taught me that the peaks and valleys can occur on a fairly regular basis, both equally challenging to attack and navigate.

I've sort of come to accept the peaks and valleys in running. It's a part of it. But for some reason, I've yet to expect that in life. When the tough times hit, my thoughts many times turn to what I've done to deserve it; what I've done wrong; what I could have done differently. A "why me" type attitude.

The reality is, while Christ has risen from the dead, has ascended into heaven, has brought His Kingdom to earth, it has not yet quite taken full control. Satan is still loose, thus so is his kingdom of darkness seeking to oppress everyone. More than anything, I think that when bad times hit, I'm reminded that I'm not in control, and I don't like that. I'm also reminded that my trust is not fully in Christ.

I came across Proverbs 3:5-12 the other day and it reminded me of these truths. Take a moment and read this........
"Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don't try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he's the one who will keep you on track.
Don't assume that you know it all.
Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own;
give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
your wine vats will brim over.
But don't, dear friend, resent God's discipline;
don't sulk under his loving correction.
It's the child he loves that God corrects;
a father's delight is behind all this."

The thing is, I want to figure out everything. I want to play a role. But I fail to realize the problem is sin that's still in me. I've got pieces within me that I still need to fully give over to Jesus. And that's precisely why I need to learn to trust God from the bottom of my heart.

I need to be driven to him in the good times and bad. When things are incredibly bad, then we tend to cry out to God and wonder why he doesn't see or hear us. When things are very good, then we forget God altogether and do our own thing; thus one big vicious cycle.

While I can't necessarily control the good times and the bad and when they occur, the peaks and valleys, one thing I can do. I can continue trusting God from the bottom of my heart. I can learn to be ok with not figuring out everything. Is this tough? INCREDIBLY! It's like running a race and not fully knowing what lies ahead. Again, this reminds me of Comrades. I knew it was a hilly course, but NOTHING prepared me for being on the actual course.

All I could do was decide that no matter what obstacles came, I would continue putting one foot in front of the other. I wasn't going to quit. Sure I made some mistakes. Probably went out a little too fast at Comrades, and should have walked more of the hills earlier. But we can't change the past. All we can do is keep our resolve to put one foot in front of the other. Know that better times will come. But ultimately, our circumstances don't matter. We just give it our all, and trust God from the bottom of our hearts.

These past 12 months or so have been some of the toughest in my life. There's been some incredible highs, and some very low lows. But, I've commited to continue to put one foot in front of the other, refusing to quit. And more and more, as I allow myself to be ok with not being in control, I learn God truly is worthy of my trust. His kingdom has indeed come! I love Him REGARDLESS of my situation and circumstances. I love Him whether I'm on a peak or in a valley. The goal remains the same: to put one foot in front of the other, and leave the rest to God.

If God gives me peaks, I will strive to be as big a blessing as I possibly can, remembering that everything I have is God's. If I find myself in the middle of a deep valley, I will continue to sing His praises no matter how exhausted I become. Regardless, I strive to keep my focus on Christ, calm and collected, continuing to move forward.

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