Updated: Jan 11, 2021
A Father's Encouragement
That's 240 seconds.
You can do a lot of things in 4 minutes.
Maybe catch up on your newsfeed, like a few posts.
Maybe listen to a song.
Go through the mail.
Search for your car keys.
You might even make it around the block if you keep a steady, power walk pace.
Crazy how fast 4 minutes can go by ...unless, of course, you need it to go by fast. You know those times like when you're trying to get back into running... Then, the time seems to drag on for-ev-errrr.
4 minutes suddenly seems like 10!
Yep, that was me.
Six months prior to stepping on the treadmill, my good friend, Berklee, had jumped out of a plane for my birthday. So of course, the only equivalent payback in her mind was to make me run a half marathon with her for her birthday.
Sure, skydiving was probably equally terrifying for her as a half marathon seemed to me, but it only lasted about two minutes once you took to the clouds.
Her adventure, on the other hand, required four long months of training! Hours and hours of training each week. Not to mention, ungodly blisters between my toes.
Training the Body, Training the Mind
But, before there were hours and hours of training, there were 4-minute intervals. Jog for 4 minutes, walk for 2. Jog for 4 minutes, walk for 2. You get the idea.
And, trust me, that was tough!
I remember making it to my first 2-minute walking break, thinking, "How will I ever make it 13.1 miles?! I'm ready to call it a day now."
I had to overcome a lot in those four months of training - mostly preconceived ideas and thought patterns I'd held onto for years.
For one, I grew up playing volleyball, so running was punishment.
Miss a serve? Get on the line.
Gosh, we even had one game in high school when no one showed up. Sure, we were all there physically on the court in our uniforms, but not one of us was there mentally, prepared for the game.
We had assumed it would be an easy win. And it was ...for the other team.
We lost big time. Coach didn't have anything to say after that match, he just pointed to the line and blew his whistle. He did that for about an hour.
For me, it's fair to say, running = punishment.
I also had this picture in my mind of people who run half marathons. And, well, I didn't fit the mold. I have muscular legs built from squatting and jumping and diving after volleyballs, and mainly pushing a set across the court. Not long, lean runner's legs.
Was I even built for this?
But beneath all the doubt and excuses, I knew Berklee had faced her fears and doubts of skydiving for me, so I couldn't chicken out after 4 minutes. I had to press on.
It wasn't easy. A run set for April in Oklahoma means you get to train in the cold, wet months of winter. That means running against the blistering wind, and if you're lucky, maybe a little red dirt to stain your shoes for some added character.
There were plenty of days when I could hear my coach from years past, standing on the sideline of the track, yelling "This is a gut check, ladies! Who's got what it takes to push through game 5?"
No doubt, each run was a gut check. But, each run was also a huge accomplishment.
Running 3 miles, then building up to 5 miles, later 7, then 9, finally 11 before race day. I chased after that feeling of accomplishment as my source of motivation.
I was surprised to learn I run better without music - without JT keeping a steady beat in my head.
Clear of the zillion things going on, running seemed to free my mind to dwell on higher things. Perhaps, that's what they mean by "runner's high." I'm not sure, but whatever this is, it's great.
Race day came and so did Berklee. The woman can run with ease. She played soccer in college, so she'll run a half or full without even training.
She's a rare breed, indeed.
So just for laughs, imagine us running together... I grew a lot from my 4-minute treadmill struggle, but I was no where near Berklee's level.
Normal people pace themselves then make up time after the incline, not Berk. She sprints. Then, she spots someone up ahead and sprints to them. By the time I catch up to her, she's spotted another.
By mile 7, I said, "Just go! I'll see you at the finish line!"
I spent the next half of the run in prayer. Might sound kind of strange, but it seemed to be the most natural response for me. Desperation brings ya to your knees, right?
Truth was, my body was handling this run surprisingly well, but my heart had been heavy for a long time.
Through the months of training, I used my runs as time to connect and focus on God, praying with every step that He would reach down with His mercy and grace and help someone near and dear to me, surrounding them with hope and love. Running my race yet praying for God to help another find the courage to stand back up to run their's.
Finally, I'm coming down the final stretch. I hear the roar of the crowds surrounding the path, and a burst of Berklee-inspired energy overwhelms me. To my own surprise, I break out into an all out sprint! Who knew I could still physically do this, let alone after thirteen miles?!
Excitement and anticipation of the finish line starts building within me. About ten strides from the finish, I hear a familiar voice.
It's strange, because I haven't been able to single out any voices up to this point.
Yet, this voice, I know.
It's the voice of my Dad cheering alongside my family, yelling, "CANDACE!!! Way to go, girl!"
Thoughtfully, my sister caught it all on video for me. Even though the picture quality didn't transfer devices well, it will forever be one of my favorite moments.
I hear the encouragement of my Dad at the finish line of a long, hard race - a race I never thought I could or would run - and my heart soars.
Let Us Run with Endurance
This reminds me of the verse in Hebrews.
...Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. - Hebrews 12:1-2
I didn't realize this at the time, but looking back, I see the connection to scripture so clearly. It helps me relate, and hopefully, it can paint a picture and help you better understand this passage more clearly, too.
In the same way that we can't run our best race carrying fifty or even ten pound dumbbells, we can't live our best life carrying the extra weight of sin, guilt, and shame either. We also may have to let go of preconceived ideas and thought patterns we previously held onto.
We're called to lay this down - recognize our sin, confess it, lay it down at the cross, and go forward as forgiven and redeemed!
We don't have to carry it around with us everywhere we go. Because of Jesus, His cross can bear this weight for us.
Then, we're ready. It says, "Let us run..."
We're not alone in this race. We have the faithful followers and family and friends, even those who have gone before us, with us and we have God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit within us.
The writer of Hebrews describes it as a "great cloud of witnesses."
We find strength in community. We're not alone - not now, not ever!
He's faithful to place specific people alongside us through the journey. Some may only be with us for a season, but there's purpose even then.
And now, let's "run with endurance the race that is set before us."
We each have a different path, a different race to run. Sometimes we can get so caught up thinking someone else's life is better or trying to compare our reality with another's, and that's completely and utterly useless.
Take it from someone who's tried that. Multiple times. It's completely and utterly useless.
Just as I have a particular race that God has called me to run. He has a particular race for you. It requires both boldness and commitment.
He has a specific purpose for us in this. We have to trust His way is best.
Stopping to look at how to get on someone else's track will only confuse and distract us. Running the race set before us will prove to be the most fulfilling adventure we'll ever know, because it was what we were made to do!
And on this run, it won't be easy. There will be cold, wet days and stretches of time where we can't feel our legs and we want to give up. But, it's not punishment.
Sure, sin has consequences - whether our own sin or feeling the repercussions of another's sin. We will experience hard times as we walk with God because we live in a broken world.
Notice it says Jesus "endured the cross."
Even being God in flesh, "easy" would never be used to describe His race. He wasn't being punished, either. He was living and dying and living again with purpose! He was running the race set before Him.
And, we have indeed been built for this.
In Paul's letter to the Ephesians, he tells us we have everything we need for this life. He says God has
...blessed us with every spiritual blessing... - Ephesians 1:3
As we run this race, we're to look to Jesus, clear our minds of the zillions things going on, and focus on Him. Dwell on higher things. That's where we'll find joy in the midst of the run.
There's promise in this verse. We know Jesus endured the cross for our sin and shame, and now He's seated at the right hand of the throne of God!
The race is done. He's at rest. He's not in heaven pacing back and forth trying to figure out how to get this world back in order. No, He's seated. He's at peace and rest.
Because, it is finished.
And, we, my friend, have the promise for eternal rest, too.
And it will feel great, euphorically so, when we're finally there - when we've finished our race and we're greeted with the choir of angels, and we get to hear the familiar voice of our heavenly Father say, "CANDACE!!! Way to go, girl!" or "[Insert your name]!!!! Way to go, [boy or girl]!"
Well done, good and faithful servant. - Matthew 25:23
So, let us run.
What race has He set before you? Go forward knowing you are not alone and He has equipped you for this journey. Lean into Him for strength.
Let us be bold and endure this race, this gift of life. Let us run it for His glory!
The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.
I love hearing from you, so go ahead. Leave a comment. Be brave. Maybe your comment will speak life into someone else!