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The crowd lining the street would roar as I crossed the finish line…I would smile and wave at the adoring fans, a few glistening droplets of sweat on my brow. Then that climactic moment…the moment that make up runners’ most sacred dreams…the pinnacle of achievement…I would be awarded my enormous, shiny finishers medal—a permanent reminder of a job well done.
At least that’s what I pictured when my husband, Sam, and I registered for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville half marathon last winter, and I embarked on my 12 week training plan enthusiastically
Immediately after registering I laid the groundwork. I created a “Running Motivation” board on Pinterest where I pinned recipes incorporating as many energy-filled “superfoods” as possible. I bought running shoes, carefully tailored to match my gait. I subscribed to Runner’s World magazine, researched Italian restaurants in Nashville best-suited for a pre-race carb load, and began crafting the “humble-brag” Facebook status I would post with the picture of me wearing my (hopefully gigantic) medal
When Monday rolled around, we knew we—unfortunately—had to begin the physical portion of our training. My husband’s alarm woke us up at 5:45am. The temperature was hovering around freezing and the sun wouldn’t be up for another few hours. Even the bravest of early birds had not left the warmth of their nests. We rolled out of bed and stumbled out onto the pavement. Gritting my teeth, I forced my body to move forward.
By week three, every inch of my feet were so blistered it looked like I’d tap danced through a pit of hot coals. By week five my blisters had developed blisters. By week ten four of my blackened toenails had abandoned ship. I guess I won’t be wearing sandals this summer…
As the weeks went by, getting up in the morning became harder. To make matters worse, our wake-up times kept getting earlier to account for our ever-increasing mileage. Rather than enjoying lazy Saturday mornings binge-watching Downton Abbey in my pajamas, Sam and I would be out pounding the pavement.
Then, only a few days before the race, our training took another unexpected hit: Sam and I both woke up with the worst head colds we’d ever had. I knew the training might be difficult. But I hadn’t expected this.
Our luck continued, and we woke up on race morning to torrential rainstorms—eerily foreshadowing what we were about to experience. Our colds still hadn’t subsided, but we’d trained too hard and for too long to give up at that point. So we took an assortment of cold medicines and made our way shivering and drenched to the starting line.
The horn sounded and we took off. Within a few miles I started feeling the effects of the cold (and perhaps the carb loading I embraced too enthusiastically the night before…). Each mile was more difficult than the last. By mile 11 tears welled in my eyes as my legs burned. My head was spinning.
Why hadn’t anyone told me it would be so hard?!!
As Christians, we often approach God’s assignments the way I approached training for the half marathon. We might start out excited about the vision God has for us, only to become sidetracked and disheartened by the struggles we inevitably encounter before reaching our goal.
But a look at scripture shows that God’s plans often—if not always—involve persevering through trials. God told David he was going to be King. What David didn’t know was that he would end up having to flee for his life and survive various murder plots. Joseph was given a vision that he would rule over his brothers. But first he was sold into slavery and falsely accused. Jesus was sent to be the savior of the world. Yet to accomplish His mission He had to suffer great pain and death.
The reality is that most of the greatest feats ever accomplished in history were a result of steady perseverance in the face of trials. The difference between people who succeeded and those who didn’t was that some people, keeping their eyes on their goal, continued to persevere despite the obstacles.
The Apostle Paul wrote this encouragement in Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
I eventually did manage to drag my bruised and battered carcass across the finish line. I then hobbled as quickly as I could to the medical tent where I was placed on an IV drip and had my heart rate monitored for the next hour. But I got that medal! I have it hanging up in my office as a reminder that, though it may involve struggles, reaching the end goal is always worth the effort.
“Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.”
– J. Andrews
A new year always seems to bring along the “New Year Resolutions”. How many of you actually look back over your year and see fruit from those resolutions? I know I rarely, if ever, do. Why is that? Is it possible that we aren’t truly serious about changing in the first place?
What if we decided this year was going to be different? Yes, I know, every year is going to be different. But what if we truly commit ourselves to making sure the person who brings in January 1, 2017 is a better person than January 1, 2016 both spiritually and physically.
I have done some research and found that they say only 8% of people achieve their new year resolutions. Let’s work on being a part of that 8% or raising that number.
Here are a few tips I think might help us:
- Reflect on last year to see what things you accomplished and/or wished you had accomplished
- Write down and clearly define what you goals are
- be specific, if you want to loose weight – how much?
- put them somewhere visible or somewhere you can look back at over the year
- Make sure you tell other people around you (friends or family) what your goals are
- you won’t get very far on your own, thats why God created us for fellowship with one another
- make sure you are telling people who will support and encourage you, not laugh or try to bring you down
- Track your progress during the year
- my husband and I keep a journal and periodically look over it during the year
- Have patience and don’t get discouraged so easily
- you aren’t perfect and are bound to slip up every once and a while
- Make sure you aren’t going at it with an “all or nothing” attitude
- that never works out and you will get discourage very quickly
- Put it on your calendar or schedule
- set a reminder in your phone every day or every week so you can’t forget even if you wanted to
Striving to be your best isn’t just for your sake, it’s for those in your life that are counting on you. Your spiritual maturity, mental health, and physical health all play a part in who you are. If you don’t put the effort in to making sure your walk with God is right or your health is in order, you’re not the only one who suffers. Lets make sure we end this year in a better way than last.
Write us some of your new years resolutions below. We would love to hear from you and pray with you as we all take these steps for the new year.