In May I did something I once believed I would never be able to do. I competed in my first 5K. For those of you who are veteran runners my accomplishment probably doesn't sound like much to you, but to me it was a form of conquering the impossible.
I'm asthmatic. Not in an I had asthma as a kid or Every now and then I have to puff on an inhaler kind of way. But in an I must take my inhaler twice a day and use an additional inhaler for exercise or asthma attacks kind of way. It's bad.
Several years ago I had to pass on one of my closest friend's bachelorette weekends because it involved an eight mile bike ride that would have sent me straight into an asthma attack. Over the years I've missed camping trips, hikes and other outdoor adventures because I allowed my disease to dictate what I could and couldn't do.
I was defined by my limitations. By my weakness.
We all tend to do that in one way or another. Most of us have labels we allow to define us spiritually. Sometimes we allow past failures like impurity, selfishness and dishonesty to define us long after we've repented and moved back toward God.
God will never use me, we think to ourselves. So our testimonies go untold and our gifts go unused and all the while the King of the Universe is left thinking, This is not what I created her for.
2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
Did you catch that? The old has gone. That means we can't allow ourselves to be defined by our old labels or failures anymore. In Christ we are new creations.
On that fateful day in May, as I laced my timing chip onto my shoe, I knew I wouldn't be among the first to cross the finish line. And I worked hard to ensure I wouldn't be among the last. I finished right in the middle - alongside my mother.
Although she was wary at first, she competed with me knowing how important it was to me to get past my label - to stop defining myself by my limitations. Having her with me made it easier to compete, easier to push myself beyond what I thought I was able. For the last .2 miles I was able to run faster than I ever had before because she was next to me cheering me on to victory.
When they placed a medal around my neck I felt like I had truly earned it. Victory never tasted sweeter.
It's the same way in the race of life. Having those who believe in us - and in the power of Christ in us - is invaluable. They can help push us when we'd rather sit down and quit. When our old labels and former sins creep into our minds and try to convince us that we can't, these friends and "running buddies" remind us that we can. They set the pace for us and push us toward the finish line.
In 1 Corinthians 9:24 the apostle Paul encouraged all of us to approach life with this mentality: "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize."
Stop labeling yourself. Refuse to allow past failures to define you. Decide in this moment that you will run to win. If you do, crossing the finish line someday will bring with it a victory unlike any other for the Lord will look at you and say, "Well done."
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."
Shannon Primicerio now regularly enjoys outdoor exercise and has already signed up to compete in her second 5K on the 4th of July. You can learn more about her at www.beingagirlbooks.com
Are you running to win a prize? Check in with Shannon at She Seeks this week.
© 2010 by Shannon Primicerio. All rights reserved.