Monday I was trail walking with a good friend and we were talking about where we are in our relationship with Christ. Both of us described a “wandering” but not in getting away from or loosing sight of our King, but more of a waiting, learning refining.
That night at Bible study in which we are studying the book of James and growing in Christ we discussed trials and how do we turn those into triumphs. Most of us are familiar with the saying that if you aren’t in a trial you are one step from one.
Recently I think I have denied that I am in any “trials.” Describing my life as just life. Yet if I am honest there are things happening in and around my life that deserve the title of trial. My job is full of change and some unknowns, my Dad has been diagnosed with lung cancer, other family members are in turmoil which causes my heart to ache.
Today I woke tired. The thought of going to yoga, or a run and doing my normal day off kind of stuff felt like a distant friend that I wasn’t sure how to connect with and not sure I wanted to. As I did some devotion time, and texted my wise younger sister I wondered whether I was avoiding, giving in or if I truly needed some grace and rest. I had no great epiphany, only that all where likely in some amount or another.
So I laced up my running shoes and with another swig of water I was out the door. The first thing I noticed was the air was thick. Unlike the cool breezes that we have been blessed with the last week in August, in the midwest no less, it was as if the weight of the “trials” where physical around me. But I pressed on. I turned on my praise music, clicked start on map my run, and started… slowly… counting every step as an accomplishment. Rounding streets that I have run often, but at this moment could not even tell you what was happening at the houses I passed today. I ran in my head as much as my feet. I prayed for the trials. I prayed for the women in my Bible Study. I prayed to keep going when my breath and feet felt heavy in the humid air. I said thank you for the heat. Thank you for the heaviness, and remembered that in Christ I have someone who is willing to carry my burdens for me… if only I would let them go. I walked, because there is grace. In my walking I noticed more the world around me and I prayed. Then I ran hard. I wanted to push myself. I wanted to finish strong… and I wondered why? Then this verse came to me, one of my all time favorites:
Romans 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, (the world is watching), let us also lay aside every weight (hah, the one I woke with?), and sin which clings so closely (don’t pick them up again), and let us run with endurance (ahhh, this is not a race finished in a day, a week, a year) the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, (I have an example to follow, but not only follow he sent a helper the Spirit to give me strength) the founder and perfecter of our faith, (He gives me the faith to believe, to move), who for the joy (not happy joy, joy, but He knew that in His suffering the ultimate would be joy) that was set before him endured the cross (took on what I could not, and still does this daily for me), …
As I sift this verse out in my writing I only wonder more. I wonder if I can ever totally understand this kind of joy? I wonder if I “suffer” any of my trials that would show Christ? I wonder if I am running well? What I don’t wonder is whether I will continue to run… it has become part of what fuels me. I am not so much talking physically here although I can tell you I no longer feel the heaviness I did this morning. I don’t have the fog in my head kind of feeling. But is that from the running in the physical or the running in the spiritual? Does it matter?