|stretching before the race|
Oh the irony… Last week I finished my post to the ladies at Solid Rock with this paragraph: “On Saturday you will be surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. They will be watching you run, especially how you finish. You’ll experience exhaustion. You’ll question why you got talked into all this nonsense. You might even want to hunt me down after the race and give me a piece of your depleted mind. In your moments of weakness listen for your Daddy screaming encouragement and run with perseverance the race marked out for you. Just run. All the way to the finish and into His arms.”
Little did I know that the person experiencing exhaustion, questioning why she got talked into all this nonsense and wanting to give me a piece of their mind would be ME!
|Some Not Your Own girls pre-race|
A few months ago I was approached by our pastor’s wife with the idea to motivate the women of our church to start exercising out of obedience to Christ. Our theme verse was I Corinthians 6:19-20 and it says, “…You are not your own, you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” We chose the Helvetia Half Marathon and Widmer 10K race on June 11th as our first goal. I had the privilege of writing weekly blog posts that encouraged our group to commit to training for these races, build relationships with other women who were also training, and see it through to completion by stomping on the finisher’s mat on race day.
Saturday was race day and it dawned bright and early. I was up at 4:30 a.m. to be to the Hillsboro Stadium (the start and finish of the race) by 6 a.m. Not Your Own was given a space on the stadium floor so we could gather ahead of the race for fellowship and have a front row seat to cheer each other on at the end of the race. It was really incredible to see the ladies before the race, meandering to our tent bleary-eyed but excited. We swapped training stories and shared our anxiety over the impending race. Thirty minutes before the start of the race we huddled to read our theme verse. Then we prayed and asked Jesus to help 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.” (Hebrews 12:1) For a lot of these ladies, me included, that race was 13.1 miles.
|after the race, but we didn't get a pre-race picture|
Carissa, Tanya and I lined up as close to the starting mat as we could get in the hope that we would be able to settle into our race rhythm quickly. The problem with this strategy was that within the first thirty seconds we got passed by droves of really fit, really fast runners. Talk about ruining your mental stamina before you’re out of the starting gate! From the very first step I felt sluggish, heavy and slow. Nothing about this race felt easy. I was so grateful to have the company of Carissa and Tanya.
We knew the course got really hilly around mile five so we built a time buffer by running the first few miles fast. Carissa was born to climb hills. She always beats me on the uphill, but I can usually catch her on the downhill. As expected, she and Tanya pulled away from me on the climb but I had them in my sights as I flew down the other side. I was within a few seconds of catching up when I got a side ache. Really? I haven’t had a running side ache in ages. It forced me to slow way down and with that, my running buddies were out of reach.
|sure do love this girl!|
Losing their fellowship took the wind out of my sails and what was already a tough race physically turned into a tough race mentally. I was surrounded by a sea of runners yet I felt all alone out on the course. I was mad that my body felt so heavy and hard to move forward. I was discouraged that my friends were gone. I questioned why I got talked into all this nonsense. Oh the irony…
But it was in this place of desperation, that I heard Jesus whisper. “Come to me all you who are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. I will never leave you or forsake you. My grace is enough.” I mentally grasped hold of his hand and we ran. Me and Jesus.
I let Jesus know exactly how I felt about being weak and forced to depend on him for my physical and mental fortitude, especially when the clock was ticking! I whined a bit about being left in the dust by my friends. I whined a lot about continuing to get passed, and passed, and passed on the course.
When I was done whining, Jesus reminded me that this race was not about me. My life is not about me. The price he paid for my ransom was his innocent blood. I am Not My Own. He gently reprimanded me to ditch the whiny attitude and reminded me to run with perseverance the race marked out for me. My heart felt him whisper, “My grace is enough. Just run. Straight to the finish.”
So I ran. For what seemed like forever. Somewhere around mile ten, I remembered that God has given me the gift of encouragement. Jesus opened my eyes to see the runners all around me who were also getting eaten alive by the tough course. I opened the big mouth Jesus gave me and started saying hi to everyone who passed me (there were lots of those) and encouraging the few people that I passed.
I saw one guy at mile twelve who had stopped running and was walking, hands on his hips and shoulders slumped. It was obvious he had checked out of the race before the finish. I ran by him and said, “C’mon man. There’s only one mile left. You can do it. Run to the finish.” Later he found me in the finishers area, gave me a huge hug and said, “Thank you! What you said was what I needed to realize I wanted to finish this race running and not walking.” How cool is that?
|The finish line never looked so good|
The last two miles were the hardest. I trudged along feeling totally depleted. When the stadium came into view, I felt nothing but relief that this race was almost over. No finish line excitement to see my family, no kick left to sprint out the finish. Just relief. I passed the 13 mile marker and rounded the corner to the stadium floor. Standing by our group tent was Kelsey, one of our 10k runners. She screamed my name, jumped on the course and started running with me. I didn’t know how much I needed her fellowship and encouragement until she was by my side.
All of a sudden, I wanted to make a splash and finish strong. There was a girl who looked like she might collapse on the course and she was beating me. Talk about embarrassing. I looked at Kelsey and said, “You think we can beat her?”
We started sprinting. Me, Kelsey and Jesus. We flew by that poor girl and sprinted all the way across the finish mat. Boy did that feel good! It was a perfect way to end a ridiculously tough race. Somehow, despite all the melodrama and in the midst of all the lesson learning, I clocked my second fastest time ever for a half marathon. Go figure.
I love the story God wrote with this race. I am Not My Own when I’m running fast, furious and effortlessly. I am Not My Own when my body is tired, my mind is defeated and all I want to do is quit. Plain and simple, I am Not My Own.
|Kelsey demonstrating the reason we run|
Thank you Jesus for buying my freedom with your precious blood. Thank you for reminding me with each footstep that your grace is enough. Thank You that I am Not My Own.