Example: You don’t sign up for a marathon the day before you consider running it.
Back in August or September last year, I was feeling pulled to run a marathon. I know, crazy!?!?! My quiet voice (well, it often shouts) said that I couldn’t do it –that it was too far. After running a half marathon in October, the nudging became greater and greater. I found that, while I was afraid, this thought occupied my mind endlessly. In November, I signed up and mailed in the registration, feeling that this was something that God was asking me to do – a part of my faith journey and learning to trust God fully.
(Cue nervous, throw up feeling and email to my hubby saying “I’m not sure I CAN do this.”)
I immediately started looking at the training plan (http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training/marathon.html ) and anxiety welled up inside me. How was this slow, achy and gimpy body going to do this? I had people doubt as well, asking “How do you know you can even do this? Have you ever even walked 26 miles?” Truth? In that instant, I didn’t think I could. I took those words to heart and they created doubt and fear. Heck, there were many days I told God I didn’t even want to. I remember asking God, “What could this possibly do for your kingdom?...So, I raise money for water, but that’s so few people. Can’t you get someone else?...This looks impossible.” Possibly the lamest excuse I tried to use was that I simply didn’t have the time.
God didn’t lose his patience with me (I certainly would have if I were him). Instead, I kept feeling him ask, “Do you trust me? I can use you. I’ve chosen you, not someone else right now.” I felt like this was my Jonah moment. God had Jonah swallowed by a whale. *gasp* Ok Lord, I thought. I’ll train, but you better make me strong. (Wow, arrogant much?)
As I posted the fundraising page and money came in, I started logging miles and the weeks started flying by. 9 miles, 10.5, 11.5, 12, 14…Seriously, I ran more than a half marathon…for fun? All the while, there was that constant stress about winter temperatures, doubts, aches and exhaustion from pushing my body harder and harder. But, beneath that surface stuff there became a desire to see what God was up to. 16 miles, 17, 20. I started to feel good about the race and about blowing away a finish time that I had set as a goal. Sure, I was still complaining and asking God why I was out there in below freezing temperatures. That 20 miles included head on bitter cold winds, fatigue and a painful fall at 16 miles, complete with tears and a bruised wrist and ego. But, part of me was excited to continue –persevere and be stronger than I had been before.
Two weeks later came my 23 mile run that would be my second to last long run and clearly the furthest this tired body had ever run. I started out and felt good. In my excitement, I got cocky about God’s provision and failed to ice and stretch after the runs. Cue the ridiculous knee pain and buckling that would end my training and my ability to run for anything longer than 1 to 2 minutes at a time for nothing further than 3 miles total. Did I mention that it was about 6 weeks before the race?
I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t spend a tearful week (at least) depressed that God would bring me to this point and then kick me to the curb. I became angry at the hours and sweat equity that I had invested. For what? I was hopeful after that week that I’d get back to training and would still do my last long run. Nope. That certainly didn’t happen; the knee was simply not strong enough.
Wow. I started feeling guilty. God had given me such an opportunity. Had I valued it enough? Had I taken that for granted? Had I been working toward glory for myself instead of God’s kingdom? I cannot tell you how humbling that was to see a path that had looked clear and straight that suddenly became narrow and filled with blind curves.
As I sit here, tears well in my eyes, remembering the realization that I had taken God’s will in this and given it a back seat to my desire to excel. This began a different thinking. Perhaps God didn’t want me to run and instead wanted me to walk. Ok…”That is still far, but ok, Lord. I feel you working. I just wish I knew why.” I started working to keep my legs strong with low impact stuff and decided to pour over his words, begging God to help me follow this through however that looked while still honoring him for his glory. I could feel him reassuring me that his way is always best.
Race week came. The knee was still sore, but feeling better. I had been dying to test it out and run but hesitated because I certainly didn’t feel that testing God was the right answer. I prayed, “God please let me run some of it, but prepare me to walk.” I was a ball of emotions and nerves at the opportunity. As the gun went off, I ran with the crowd for a bit, feeling the surge of 6 months of waiting from the day of registration. I’ll get into the details a bit more in the next post, but I will say that I will never forget the feeling of God carrying me, allowing me to walk/run the course and come across the finish line into the arms of my husband who believed in me all along. It wasn’t the way I had thought it would look when I signed up, but it was God’s way. And, he allowed me to see that he provides for those who persevere even when things feel lonely or impossible. He is ALWAYS with you. You just have to keep getting up when you fall.
Zephaniah 3:17~ “ For the Lord your God is with you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will reign over you with joyful songs.”
Many of those miles were spent by myself on the road. But, I was never alone. I was surrounded by prayers from people God put in my life and cheers from my family and friends –all honoring the journey into a deeper faith that I was taking.
My God was, and is, bigger than an injury midway through training. He is bigger than a layoff right at Christmas or a son moving away. As Beth Moore says, “You will do what you can’t when you BELIEVE.” (emphasis mine)
(That black stuff on my arm? That would be the smeared marker reading "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." While the marker didn't work out like I had thought, I'm glad I put the most important one on there first.)
What is God asking you to do? Are you willing to do the hard stuff for him?