An Old, New Cliché

Living the Christian life is a lot like running. I know, I know — this is an old cliché, one that you’ve probably heard a thousand times over from a hundred different preachers. But bear
with me, I beg ya’, because from where I stand, this old cliché has a new perspective for me.

I’m on a diet — South Beach, in fact. As part of this diet, my wife and I have instituted a (mostly) regular exercise routine. Typically, we alternate running and cycling. Thing is, I used to hate running (it didn’t help that I was carrying 240 pounds everywhere I went). As time has progressed, however, I have shed 25 pounds, and I have subsequently discovered a new love for running. I see the greatest difference in my weight loss after running consistently for several days, I notice a significant improvement in my overall stamina and sense of well-being, I feel healthier in mind, body, and spirit after running. In short I love the way running makes me
feel.

Here’s where running really compares with Christian living (and where I really immerse myself in the cliché). When I’m actually doing the running, I don’t like it so much. It’s hard, it hurts, it makes my whole body ache and burn, it pushes me beyond my physical limits, forcing me to tap into something deeper inside myself. The Christian life is very much like this. It’s hard, it hurts, it makes my body and spirit and will ache and burn, it pushes me beyond my limits in every area of my being, forcing me to tap into someOne inside myself, because I sure can’t do it all on
my own.

Problem is, I gave up running the spiritual race some time ago, gave it up in frustration with bitterness and anger and snide cynicism. I pulled off the track, tore off my jersey and my number, wadding it up and throwing it to the side in disgust, and became a spectator, watching the other runners go by and shaking my head at them in wonder, disbelief, and distaste as I puzzled how they could possibly go on abusing their bodies like that.

Tonight, I re-entered the race. I’m out of shape, I’ll grant you, for having sat on the sidelines so long. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep running, and I suppose I’ll probably wear myself out a lot for a while. I’ll probably experience a bit of light-headedness as I build up my spiritual body to run longer and harder. But the thing of it is that I want to try again. I guess I’m just tired of sitting still because, to be honest, I’ve never been happy just being a spectator. It’s not where my Coach wants me, and He’s been ragging on me for a long to get my butt back in the race where I belong. He keeps telling me I’m destined to be a terrific runner, that if I’ll just listen to Him, He’ll get me in shape and introduce me to bigger and better races. I don’t know if I completely believe Him, but my backside is sore from so much sitting,
and I’ve been miserable as a result.

So my feet are back on the track, and the road is hard and long and stretches a long way out in front of me. I do wonder if it will be worth it, this getting back into the race. I know I’m going to hurt a lot, and I’m a little bit nervous about that. I’m afraid I’ll fail and fall to the side again. guess I’ll just have to look around for a group of runners going the same direction and join up
with them. Running’s always easier with a group. Running’s always better when you know where you’re going, and I think I remember my destination.

Hebrews 12:1
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
1 Corinthians 9:24
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:26-27
Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No,
I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

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