I was chatting with a three-time marathoner recently. She was describing the intimacy she feels with God when she runs. It was similar to the way a nature-lover describes his or her love for camping under a starry sky. “I just sense His presence there.”
I’ve written about my tumultuous relationship with running before.
Once, on a jog with Kevin, I asked him if he really loved running. “I mean, do you like the actual process? The up and down? The burning legs? Or do you just enjoy accomplishing something that’s difficult?”
“There’s some of that, sure,” he said, “but most of the time, my mind races. Running is the one place I can clear my thoughts. So, yes. I enjoy running.”
Me, still a bit skeptical, “So, you ‘get’ the Eric Liddell quote. That whole ‘God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.’ thing?”
“Yes, I get it,” Kevin said. “I feel God’s pleasure when I run.”
When I run, on the other hand, I feel like God might be laughing at me. He did not make me fast. I’m less Eric Liddell/Chariots of Fire and more Screech/Saved by the Bell. I enjoy the endorphin-pumping exercise aspect of running, but I certainly wasn’t born to run.
Yesterday, in honor of spring break and sunshine, I thought, I’ll try it. I’m gonna experience God’s pleasure through running.
I ended up stuck behind a granny in booty shorts; the words KEY WEST broadcasted across her backside.
That set off my slow unravelling.
I am the worst runner in history. I am slower than this 85 year-old woman. No. Refuse to get yourself down. You can do this. Okay, run to feel God’s pleasure. Go………..Okay, not getting anything here. Maybe God wants to hear my pleasure. Okay, God, here goes nothin’. Thank you for this beautiful day. Thank you for your creation. Thank you for legs that work. Ouch, my calves are cramping. Ack, my shoulders are knotting up. Oh, my stomach. Maybe I should stop and stretch. Take a little break. I deserve a break. No, I don’t. Keep going. Beat your body and make it your slave, Aubrey. Dang this small bladder. Avoid the dog poo over there. Ugh, my thighs hurt. I wonder if running in this sun is giving me wrinkles. I need to apply more sunscreen. I also need to repaint my dining room. A seafoam green, perhaps. Something beachy. I should have consumed more water before I left the house. Maybe I’ll wrap this up quickly. I mean, why am I running anyway? What’s the point of this? No. Don’t give up. Keep going. Stand up straight. Move your feet. One after the other. Ugh. Okay, back to God. Being thankful. Where was I? God, thank you for my boys. Ooh, my calves are tight…
You get the idea. My running is not a natural flow of worship and prayer. Mine is a painstaking, pretty hilarious, comedy of errors.
So, if I am going to take any lessons from running, it’s going to be along the lines of this lesser known Eric Liddell quote: â€œYou will know as much of God, and only as much of God, as you are willing to put into practice.â€
The race may always be a battle for me, but until I’ve got the “running equals God’s pleasure” down, I’ve decided to run (physically and metaphorically) because I want to stay committed to something that does not always come naturally.
In spite of my fleeting feelings and sometimes wavering faith, I will practice belief.
I choose to endure.
Fifty years from now, I hope you’ll find me running down the beach in a pair of SHAMELESS booty shorts; wrinkles and all, doused in the sun.
What about you? When do you feel most connected to God?
Oh, and congrats to Joanne Lewis, the winner of Terri Kraus’ Restoration Series giveaway!
Thanks to all of you for reading and sharing! xoxox