When I was a kid, I wasn’t really the “sporty” type. Sure, I was occasionally coerced into playing a sport in school. Soccer for a couple of years, basketball for one, but it wasn’t exactly my forte. Well, let me put it this way. My one year playing basketball, I think I scored 2 points. The whole year. Yeah.. I also got an award that year for the most jump balls. That means that I would just grab the ball from someone and didn’t let go. So, at least I was aggressive?
Throughout the years, I always wanted to be active, but could never really find something that held my attention for long. Until a few years ago, when I started running.
Don’t ask me why I did, I probably couldn’t afford my gym membership anymore. The first year (at least!) was tough. Making myself get up and go run basically took up all my energy, so I had little left to run the rest of the time. Walking is basically the same thing, right? However, the more I did it, the easier it got. Every time I ran, I kept my head down, pushed through, struggled on, scared to look up lest I fall (or worse, step in some… you know what).
The more I ran, the more comfortable I got and occasionally, I would look up. And that’s when someone would catch my eye and give me a thumbs up, or a high five, or a fist pump! All of a sudden, I wasn’t doing the struggle alone! All of a sudden, there was a community of humans struggling through their race as well! If only I had lifted my eyes earlier, maybe those days I quit early, or couldn’t go on, I would’ve felt encouraged just enough to perservere. As cheesy as it sounds, the community of runners running their race beside me gave me encouragement to press through a little longer. On days when I was running by myself, the person who high fived me made me laugh, and I ran a little longer.
All of this made me think of how this community God has placed us in is essential to our faith journey. We are all on different paths, running in our own lane, running at our own pace. I don’t know about you, but it is so easy for me to get bogged down by my own journey, feeling alone, that I forget to look up and see the expansive community of people running their race alongside me. I love how in Acts 2, it gives us a glimpse into the early church. It talks about how they shared their belongings, gave to those in the community who were in need, ate meals together, (essentially they were running their races together!). It says they lived in “wonderful harmony” and were “exuberant and joyful” – that people looking on “liked what they saw”. How amazing is it, that when God places us in a community, it isn’t just for the benefit of us? That when people around us see us healed and whole, they actually notice as well? It becomes a ripple effect!
These days, I definitely don’t get to run every day. When I do, though, I try to notice those running around me. The person with their eyes down. And sometimes, that person is me. I’ve tried to take on the baton of that running community though. I’m not going to thumbs up you, or fist bump you, but I’ll catch your eye, try to give you a smile (in between catching my breath). It might sound crazy, but encouraging other runners actually also pushes me forward in that moment.
Who can you encourage, while you’re running your race? Who can you speak life to?
Lift your eyes, friend. You are not alone.
“Do you see what this means– all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running- and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep you eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed– that exhilarating finish in and with God.”