In some fashion, I feel compelled to attempt to put words to today's events, today's emotion. As many of you know, I make no excuses or apologies for being a Christ follower. I use this term, rather than Christian, because I feel it best describes my walk. I AM a Christ follower. I strive every day to follow what God wants. Some days I fail miserably, but He lets me try the next day...that is His infinite grace. Grace that was afforded me by a huge sacrifice in my name...in your name. So, I get up each day and make the choice to try my hardest.
In any event, three months ago I entertained the idea of signing up for a half marathon. Immediately, negative speak started running through my brain. This negative speak is something I personally specialize in. I kept telling myself that, with two bad knees and the fact that I still walk portions of a 5k, I had no business signing up for anything longer than that, not to mention something as impossible as 13.1 miles. I told myself I couldn't...and, what did I get back? An almost audible "Yes, you can." I don't actually hear from God often (not in audible sounds), but I am certain this was Him. I had never been asked by God to do something such as this, but I felt maybe this was my faith test. (Trust me, I felt foolish even explaining this to people...I couldn't for the life of me figure out why a race would be a faith test.) I had never given over everything I had in me before...maybe that's what God wanted from me. So, I signed up...signed up even though I doubted.
I figured that I'd better start training if I were ever going to come close to finishing such a distance, as I still assumed that I couldn't...what with two bad knees, a quitter attitude and just being afraid, I couldn't. I started the week of the heat wave in July. I hated every minute of that week. I doubted. I doubted God's provision. I doubted my ability. As the weeks rolled along, I rolled up on 6.5 and 8.5 and then 10.25, it became harder and harder to stay healthy. My ankles ached, my back hurt, I questioned why I was doing this. I remember one conversation that I had with Him: "God, I have no idea why you want me to do this, but I'm here. I'm running for you...please take care of me because I can't do this without you." I wanted to quit when it hurt, I did. But, God provided. I kept finding it more and more amazing that He was keeping my knees from aching to the point that I'd have to quit...started trusting, but still doubted.
This week was race week. I spent the week feeling a mix of emotions...fear, anxiety, doubt, belief, resolve...you name it. When I picked up my race number and shirt yesterday, I nearly balled on my way to the car. I was awash with emotion that I couldn't explain. Today, I got out of bed, fully expecting the normal pre-race jitters-the sick stomach, the whole nine. I was nervous, but nothing like normal. This was God's Half Marathon (I had decided that) and I wanted so badly to make Him proud, to trust Him with everything I had, to give Him everything in me.
So, I ran proud and I ran strong, praying in the hard parts early near mile 2, recentering at mile 7 and pausing to celebrate a bit, and thinking often of God. By mile 9, though, I had run (or tried to run) hill after hill. My joints ached, I was trying hard, feeling so utterly alone out there and not really knowing if I could do this. I wished hard for someone, somewhere on a street corner, but knew the family and friends hadn't planned to be right there. I started to give up on myself, I did. I guess then, I would have been giving up on God too. Then, a song came on the player...not just any song, but one that moves my heart EVERY time I hear it. It is a song that reminds me of the huge sacrifice I mentioned in the opening paragraph. It is "What Do I Know of Holy" by Addison Road. I picked up my pace as tears welled in my eyes. God had been there all along, just waiting for me to cry out...and He responded in that instant when no earthly being could. I guess the tears came because I had diminished for that instant the power of God and His provision. I hadn't quite given Him the credit He was due.
So I kept running...I kept pushing past aches that were quickly forming to come into the park to find my smiling husband, Tim standing in the 10.5 mile area. My heart again moved to see him saying..."Just a little more. I'm so proud of you." I didn't feel like I could keep going, but he pushed me and kept it up. He met me at mile 12.50 to run me in. He ran the whole way with me and just keep saying..."Just a little more. You CAN do this." I had, you see, begun to already doubt again as I had struggled with the wind and struggled to get to mile 11 and 12...struggled to realize that I was so close to the end, but had nothing left. God gave me Tim, again right where I needed him and willing to run me into the finish line.
When I got to the stadium, He gave me a good friend that I could see at the finish line who immediately came and hugged me and congratulated me. God gave me friends and family praying for me during the day. He came through. He provided for me, just as He always promised.
I came home to rest for a bit and got up just a bit ago, filled with emotion and tears. I felt compelled to write out these events. I hope they inspire you in some way to either hear from God if you know Him, or to check Him out if you are far from Him. He knows our hurts and fears and He is right there to help me, you, us through them. He is just waiting for us to ask.
I don't know how He plans to use this race. Maybe, He just wanted me to be faithful. Maybe, His name will be gloried in other ways....that isn't for me to say or figure out.
I will not apologize for being a Christ follower, but I will apologive for the length of the post :) Feel free to leave a comment. P.S. I'll add a picture as soon as I get it downloaded.