I am a Runner…for an Everlasting Crown

 

I am a runner.

Even though I have run 12-20 miles a week for more than seven years, including many races, I don’t refer to myself as a runner. I’ve recently given some thought to this reticence:

1. I don’t consider myself good enough to be a runner. Runners are faster than I am, and they look more natural.

2. Saying I’m a runner commits me to a level of performance I’m not sure I’m up to. If you saw me run, you might wonder how I call myself a runner, especially if you run a sub-eight mile. I never know how I will perform. I have my worst runs on days when I start out feeling fast; and I surprise myself with a smooth, easy run on days I struggled to get out of bed.

3. I didn’t start running until I was 40. I never ran track or competed, other than in recreational races. Real runners have scholarships, records and medals to prove it.

Running is one of the most consistent parts of my week; yet I find myself sometimes pursuing failure. I look for excuses not to run: it’s freezing; it’s raining; I’m too tired. When I do take a break, however, I quickly find my body and mind yearning to return, especially when the sun is shining and I see other runners seizing the day.

I am a Christian.

I accepted Jesus into my heart at the age of six (I recently found the quote in my First Communion program to answer that question for me), yet I feel  unworthy and vulnerable when I lay claim to this title too. And, my rationale is similar:

1. I don’t think I’m good enough to be anyone’s example of a Christian. Christians are better people than I am. They live better lives than I do, and their wisdom and witness come more naturally than they do for me.

2. Telling you I am a Christian commits me to a level of performance that I’m not sure I’m up to. If I step out in faith, what will you think of me – or worse yet, my God – when I fall?

3. I am not an accomplished follower. I didn’t start reading the Bible until I was 40. I don’t have a notable cross to share with you of trials I have faced with courage, or things I have overcome by my faith. In fact, my story – like my running – is quite unremarkable.

Yet I have committed to stand up for Jesus. I have promised to share what Jesus has done and is doing in my life through this blog and in any conversation that allows it.

So here I go: In two weeks, I will leave a job I’ve worked in for a decade. It’s a good decision for all the world-based reasons that have guided my other big decisions. But, it’s also a God thing. This is the first time I’ve given my career over to God’s sovereignty. When people ask what I am going to do next, I can honestly say, “I don’t know,” because God has not revealed that to me yet, but He has promised to provide. He has communicated to me clearly His timing for my departure,  and asked that I give Him four weeks as a sabbatical. These four weeks will be shaped by prayer, listening, goal-setting and more prayer. I am ready to hear and heed God’s call on my life at a level I have not done before.

And that is why I feel so vulnerable in sharing this with you. What if four weeks pass and I have no clarity about what’s next? What if I run down a path and fall flat on my face? Do I compromise your faith in God if that happens?

It was in the midst of these questions that I read Genesis 24 this morning. I learned of the faithfulness of Abraham’s servant in honoring his master’s request to find a wife for Isaac from Abraham’s line. As the servant arrives in Abraham’s homeland and rests by the well, he asks God to reveal the woman who is to be Isaac’s wife by leading her to offer water to him and his camels. Enter Rebekah who wastes no time in making the offers that confirm her as God’s choice. And if that’s not enough, she reveals that her family is of Abraham’s line. The servant is overjoyed by how swiftly and abundantly God answers his petition.

When he asks Rebekah’s family for her hand, he recounts in detail the Lord’s path to Rebekah. The family’s response is simply, “The LORD has obviously brought you here, so there is nothing we can say. Here is Rebekah; take her and go. Yes, let her be the wife of your master’s son as the LORD has directed.” (Genesis 24:50)

As I seek to follow God’s will for my life, my prayer is to follow the example of this humble servant by asking God to confirm His will clearly, sans supernatural feats, because I trust who God is. And, as I witness that I am a Christian, I will strive just to share my stories of His faithfulness.

In applying these thoughts to your life:

  • Do you feel unworthy of God’s call on your life? (May we display the faithfulness of Abraham’s servant who came to know his master’s God through obedience.)
  • Will you ask God for confirmation of how He will reveal His glory through you, and then step out boldly for Him?
  • What stories will you tell of God’s faithfulness and sovereignty in your life?

Read more about running for Jesus:

Isaiah 40:31 (the team name for my next race): but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

I Corinthians 9:24: 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…

Hebrews 12:1: 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…

2 Timothy 4:7: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.

4 Replies to “I am a Runner…for an Everlasting Crown”

  1. Nanette, this is good on so many levels; I wish I had time to comment in more depth. I have felt exactly the same way on both counts (being a runner and a Christian) but I’m about 10 years behind you. I love the Hebrews reference…I have been camped out there myself lately. And I think that the answer to your nervousness about what happens after your sabbatical is found in the verse that follows: “Fix your eyes on Jesus.” Well done, my friend. You have my prayers for the journey, and I’m excited that we have the potential to encourage and cheer each other on from a shared perspective once more.

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  2. I love this! Thank you for the blessing. I cannot BELIEVE how much we have in common. I too, “run” but am really a “jogger”….I too, am thinking of either leaving the job I have held the last decade to take a leap of faith. I will keep checking your wonderful blog! Thank You!

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