I’ll never forget the smell of hot asphalt as I stopped running while all the other students raced by, passing me. With my body bent over, all I could do was hold my side ache until it stopped. The thought of running again made me sick to my stomach. Even in the fourth grade, I couldn’t help but notice I wasn’t skinny like all the other girls, and every time I ran my side hurt.
Isn’t it amazing what you remember from elementary school?
It’s funny how times change.
A few months ago, I ran my first 5k with my husband, and we (gasp) paid money to run. Yes, paid! I can’t ever remember a time when I enjoyed running, and now I was dragging myself out of bed on a weekend morning to run for 3.1 miles. I don’t know about you, but I was never able to even run a mile straight without stopping.
But you know what?
Something in me had changed!
In the Bible, Hebrews 12:1-2 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 pioneer 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” (NIV).
In the past, I always criticized my body for being too fat to run. I gave excuse after excuse as to why I couldn’t run. As I mentioned earlier, even as a fourth grader I knew my body was different. It wasn’t until many many years later I learned side aches were normal. Everybody gets them (or so my husband told me)! It’s what I do when I get one that matters.
I’m learning to run, and in my case it means running, then walking, then running again. I may not be the fastest runner, but that will never take away from the fact that I am running.
For the first time in my life, I’m running with perseverance and I’m no longer ashamed at my slow pace.
I wonder what’s stopping you from running?
Maybe like me you hate running or feel you’re not qualified to run because of your size. Wrong and wrong! Did you know what the Bible says?
“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 someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, NIV).
As followers of Christ, we are literally running towards the goal of eternity where we will have the pleasure of being with Jesus forever!
This alone should excite us into running with perseverance.
But often it doesn’t--why?
Let’s look at the story of Peter. He was one of the loudest disciples. Not only was he cocky, he had what I like to call foot-in-mouth disease. But Jesus loved him oh-so much! He knew Peter had so much potential, which is why Jesus changed his name from Simon to Peter, which means “rock.” About the name change, Jesus said, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matt. 16:18). But, before Peter would fulfill his namesake in building the church, he would deny Jesus, his faith, everything.
There will come a point in our Christian walk (walk, get it?) when we deny the existence of Jesus. When we become afraid, confused, and so self absorbed (cocky even) that we will actually tell Jesus “no.”
Like Peter, we can be so close to Jesus—and yet still deny him.
Yet, when we hear the rooster crow, the ugly cry begins with giant tears streaming down our faces, and we get it. In our blindness, weakness, and insecurity we see Jesus how much He loves us, wipes our tears, and shows us His will for our lives.
The good news is that Jesus’ love for us will never change even when we do, and worse--even when we deny the very existence of Jesus.
Jesus is big enough and strong enough to forgive.
Thank God, right?
I can now say that I know what it means to deny Christ. In my disobedience, in my own fleshy weakness--Jesus saw me, made allowances for me and still offered a place for me in His kingdom. Like Peter, He saw something in me I couldn’t see myself. Hope. This alone motivates me to pick up running again even when it feels like death.
I don’t know about you friend, but I want to run for Jesus!
I want to run into His arms every day.
To run against every bad thought that sets itself up against the knowledge of Christ.
“Follow Me,” Jesus says, “and I’ll make you fishers of men (and women).”
Jesus’ presence alone should free us and give us the courage to run with perseverance.
His love is strong enough to save--not only for eternity but in this lifetime too. He is our hope. He is the reason we run.
Prayer: Thank You Lord that I now have this opportunity to get alone with You. As you begin to speak into my life--may I listen, obey, and understand that I’m not perfect like Peter, but that you love me deeper still. Help me not to deny You again Jesus. Forgive me. Teach me to become a fisher of men, to feed your lambs, and to run with perseverance. I love you.
Renee Fisher is an adoring wife to Marc and mom to their pit bull named Star. She is the author of 4 books including "Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me." Renee serves on the board for both ChristianMingle and San Diego Christian Writers Guild, is the editor of DevotionalDiva.com, and loves nothing more than to spur others forward. A graduate of Biola University, she works full time as a spirited speaker and author to the 30-somethings. Learn more at Reneefisher.com.