There is something about springtime that makes me want to run. I think it’s that exhilarated feeling of freedom I get after the long, cold winter has passed. I can now step out without the bonds of heavy clothing and take a deep breath of warm, sweet air. I feel light, buoyant, and joyful. These feelings make me want to move.
I used to run a lot. I was never very fast, and the furthest I ever ran was eight miles (around Mackinac Island). But I loved running. I loved the moment when you were over the hump and the rest of the run just felt good. I loved the sprint to the finish line. I loved the feeling of accomplishment when I was done, taking a walk to cool down and feeling a breeze on my hot, sweaty face. I loved feeling I could go the distance, work my body, stay strong.
After I got so sick in 2006/2007, I ran a 5K as part of my recovery. As I was training, I realized that running had become very different for me. It was hard. I never got over the hump to that good feeling. If I made it to the end of the run without stopping I was thrilled. And spent. I still felt accomplished but I also felt drained. There was no runner’s high. I kept at it until my pregnancy. At that time, my doctors told me it was best to keep my heart rate below a certain level and for me, that meant no more running.
Exercise is a very important component to maintaining my health, but with a busy boy to take care of, I have to be careful. I don’t always have the strength for focused exercise. It takes a lot of energy to get through my days with Lucas. And if I put energy I don’t have into workouts, they backfire and I get sick.
It would be silly to say I don’t exercise at all. After all, I have a two and a half year old boy. He never. stops. moving. But my exercise has changed from sustained jogging to the spurts of energy needed to carry Lucas short distances, push the stroller up a hill, hoist him into his car seat or the grocery cart, climb after him on play structures, go down slides meant for children without breaking my neck, and chase him all over creation.
Lucas is big into chasing and running right now. He runs with his friends, he runs at the park, he runs holding my hand, he runs around the house, and he runs full tilt down the steep driveway (it’s just as scary as it sounds).
There is a passage in Hebrews about running the race. This is what it says:
“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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)
This is such a rich passage. I love the imagery of throwing off what hinders us so we can run the race; so we can live as God wants us to live. It’s kind of like getting rid of that heavy winter coat. In my life, there are things that hinder me. Sometimes I focus on what I can’t do rather than rejoicing in what I can do. Sometimes I allow fear to take hold and I worry about the future rather than living fully in the present. Sometimes I compare myself to others. Sometimes I fixate on what I’ve lost rather than thank God for all I have. There are days when I feel opposition. I feel like I am fighting against a power that wishes to consume and destroy my body. I feel weary from the fight.
But when I consider Jesus, when I fix my eyes on Him, these hindrances fade. Jesus endured more opposition, more hardship, more pain, and more unfairness than I ever will. And He knows me. He understands my struggles. I am never abandoned in my weakness. God promises to supply me with His strength.
The apostle Paul had some sort of weakness, a “thorn” that tormented him. He writes in 2 Corinthians, “But [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me...For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (12:9, 10b).
Cystic Fibrosis is definitely a thorn. It is not pleasant. I would love to throw it off. But there are blessings in my life I would not have without this thorn. It has taught me to be patient and to wait on God. It reminds me what a gift each day of life is and gives me perspective on what is important. It has helped me to relate to others who suffer. It has brought me to the end of my own strength again and again. And it is there that I find God. He is waiting for me at the end of my self-sufficiency. He is ready to fill me with His peace, to show me His purposes and to give me His perspective. His grace is always sufficient. He may not give me the endurance to run a marathon, or eight miles, or even one. But He gives me the strength I need to run the race marked out for today.