2008-05-01 - Running in the Rain
1 Cor 9:24-27 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run , but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27 but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified. (NASB)
I had a personal object lesson earlier this week and I would like to share it with you. I'm in training for my 4th degree Black Belt in Okinawan Kenpo. While this is certainly a perishable wreath in the scope of eternity, it is goal I have set myself for some time. Over the last year I have been given the fire to attack this personal challenge. There are so many parallels in the preparation and training, the personal commitment and the daily Christian walk that the flood that has come at me has been impressive.
Part of my training is to prepare for a three mile run. Long runs are not my favorite thing to do. I don't mind intermediate distance running, but three miles is not intermediate in my mind. I'm up to a mile at this point and it's going much better than I had hoped. Monday night it was raining. It had been a long day at work, followed by an hour long workout. A few of my friends were trying to convince me not to run because it was dark early because of the overcast. I am ahead of the running in my training schedule. I had every imaginable human excuse to skip the run that night. A voice inside me kept urging me to run and keep to the program. I grabbed a reflective vest and let everyone know I would be careful, and asked a few to keep an eye on the clock. The unspoken part is that they should come looking for me if I didn't return in reasonable time. We watch out for each other that way.
The rain was cold but not too heavy. At the quarter mile there is a place on the course to turn around. I kept going though I was arguing with the voice urging me on. At the half mile point I am committed to complete the mile. I turned to go uphill for most of the remainder of the course and questioned my sanity for doing the run. The voice urged me on. I complied watching my breathing and keeping the pace steady. At three-quarters of a mile I was soaked and cold but beginning to sense this small victory within my grasp. At seven-eights of a mile I stepped into a deep, cold pothole. My lightweight running shoe was submerged to my ankle. My human reaction was to stop and walk and complain. The voice inside me immediately pressed me to keep going, and I again complied never breaking stride.
As I strode into the empty parking lot, this small victory was humbling. The rain was still coming down, but it had not kept me from running the course. The darkness, the spots on my glasses, my cold, wet hair and clothes argued against me in vain. The unseen pool of water that had soaked my shoe, sock and foot had not broken my stride. I could only thank the Lord Who had carried me through something I had almost talked myself out of doing.
There are rain storms in life of various intensity that might keep us from doing the right thing and try to drive us off the course. There are wet clothes, adversities in life that make us question the path that we walk. There are water filled potholes of sin that we will stumble into that would break us down to a walk and and reduce us to complaining. Sin is very rarely accidental. We get ourselves into situations we could avoid by not being observant and wise. We are given each other to come looking for us when we are overdue - falling off the narrow way. And the important victories we achieve are so rarely done in our own strength, and fueled by the encouragement and help of others - the Lord Himself and brothers and sisters in Christ. And, there is almost never a ticker tape parade waiting for us for doing the right thing.
But we run - encouraged, complying, stumbling and getting up again all along the narrow way.
In the case of the Christian walk there will be one reward that will be eternal and worth every mile, every adversity, every compliance with Jesus' encouragement, and every time sin is resisted. To hear the words of the Savior say, "Well done good and faithful servant." (Matt 25:21), will a reward for eternity. There are the streets of gold, the river of life that flows from the throne, time sitting at the feet of Jesus learning for eternity, and more. But to hear well done will be so humbling. My feet ran the race that evening, but it was only my victory because I complied with my Encourager. It will be the same with my life if I learn to hear that still small voice.
Rom 7:18-20, 24-25 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. ... 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. (NASB)
Grace & Peace,