A few Sundays ago, our pastor gave a very inspiring message in his continuing series on living life on purpose. He used the story of Esau & Jacob and how Esau gave his birthright away for a simple bowl of stew. Stupid, huh? Yet, I do that all the time. I give away my life, my health, my longevity for brief moments of gratification. As I learn to live life on purpose, to find faith and fitness, I want to quit giving away my birthright. The ability to live a long, healthy, fit life, filled with loving relationships and satisfying work. A life filled with appreciation of beauty and the ability to enjoy it. That’s my birthright. It’s yours, too.
I read an article in Runner’s World this month that surprisingly melded into Dr. Clark’s message. It was on developing a mantra to help you when you are running distances, or trying to overcome a difficult stage in any run/race. Many champion runners do this and some of their inspirational mantras were listed. The article encourages you to develop your own mantra, and even offers some guidelines and a little chart for developing the best mantra for you. I’ve played with the chart a little and came up with some lame ones, like: “Be strong, run long,” and “Be fierce, feel bold,” but nothing really seemed to click. I loved the truth of Sean Downey’s, “Fast or slow, it hurts just the same,” but didn’t feel terribly inspired by it. Well, maybe a little. Anyway, Dr. Clark had us all repeat a very simple truth the morning of the Esau message. “I can’t, but God can.”
Now, this flies slightly in the face of the Runner’s World article, using negativity about self, but it is exactly the mantra that fits my running. Because, one of the truths that dawned on me after so many years of starting and stopping running programs is that I’ve always tried to run in my own strength. I’ve never actually let God have every area of my life, choosing to greedily hold on to the areas that I didn’t think He really had time for. Yeah, I know. Sometimes my stupidity amazes even me. But, getting older really does have its benefits, not the least of which is getting wiser. Thank God.
So, for the last couple of years, as I’ve re-established a running program, I’ve learned to let God do what God does. Be my Strength. Be my Discipline. Because I really can’t do it by myself. I’ve tried. More than once. And there are still times when that control freak inside me rears her ugly head and tries to make me think I can do it on my own. Those are the times I lose motivation, struggle with every run, find excuses not to run, and focus on every ache and pain.
This year, this race, this training program, this life. It’s all about what I can do through Christ, who strengthens me. I’m excited because I’ve finally realized that I can’t, but God can. Amen and amen!