"I have finished the race, I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith." 1 Timothy 4:7
I did it!
After weeks of training, I ran my first half-marathon. 13.1 hard-earned miles, run by my very own legs. My only real goal was to finish in one piece, without help from an ambulance. But I secretly hoped to run the race in less than two-and-a-half hours. Which I did, with two whole minutes to spare!
Today, as I nurse my sore muscles and joints and reward my hard work with some home-made ice cream, I'm reflecting a little bit on this thing that I just did. My purpose in all of this was to begin living out 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."
I wanted to learn what it meant to surrender myself in obedience to the Lord, in a practical, tangible way. Through the sweat and frustration and tears and elation of training for this seemingly impossible thing, I longed, somehow, to bring glory to the One who created me. I wanted to please my Father's heart. And I hoped that someone else might catch a glimpse of Jesus in my journey.
In the week leading up to the race, I was under vicious attack from the enemy. We know that Satan wants to destroy anything we do that might bring God glory. All week, my husband was plagued with terrible abdominal pain and nausea. After pulling double duty every night, I felt completely exhausted and irritable by week's end. I missed the two short runs I had planned for the week, and I was already off-track due to my own illness the week before. We had a frustrating, stressful day on Thursday, and by Friday, I was in a terrible mood. Irritable, emotional, short-tempered, and absolutely dreading the run. On Friday night, when I desperately needed a solid night of sleep, I tossed and turned, plagued by anxiety, doubt, and thoughts of every single thing that has ever annoyed me in my entire life. At the crack of dawn, I sat on the edge of my bathtub, dressed in my race gear, and cried out to the Lord for help. And, I kid you not, he brought this to my mind: "Put one foot in front of the other..." You know, from the claymation Christmas movie? You can't say He doesn't have a sense of humor.
I had been dwelling in my emotions and uncertainty, but God directed me to quit whining and just MOVE. So, in obedience, I moved. I put one foot in front of the other, all the way to the race parking lot. All the way from my car into the stadium, and all the way around and around until I found the Not Your Own ladies gathered under our tent. And as soon I saw them, I was reminded why I was doing this crazy thing at this ridiculous hour, and I was okay. More than okay - I was pumped.
The race itself went amazingly well. Not easy, mind you, but easier than I expected. I ran the first half at a very slow pace, chatting with three wonderful women about our kids, our bodies, our husbands, our homes, and our Savior. Even on the tough hills of the middle stretch, the miles flew by with relative ease. Around the 8-mile mark, I decided to pick up my pace a little, and ended up running the rest of the race by myself. I turned up my worship music and turned on my after-burners. By mile 11, I was really beginning to hurt, and by mile 12, I had to pray through every single step. "Just keep my feet moving, Jesus," I whispered through my wheezing. And He did. As I finished the race with my version of a sprint, I felt the most amazing sense of victory. Not only because I had just pushed my body to run for two hours and twenty-eight minutes straight, although that felt incredible. The real victory was that I threw off everything that hindered me, I fixed my eyes squarely on Jesus, and through him, I ran my race.