When You Decide to Run…
Some years ago, during my one-year compulsory national service, I wanted to lose some weight so I decided to start early morning jogs. I shared the idea with my roommates but none of them showed any interest. After days of waiting for them without receiving any positive response, I decided to start the race on my own.
After my first run, Vivian, one of our lodge mates, asked to join me. She said she had been wanting to jog for some time, but she needed a running mate. I agreed, and we became partners.
After my quiet time in the morning, I would lie in the bed and wait for Vivian to knock and say, “Hey, John. Are you ready?” Then I would slip into my tennis and we would start running.
I usually ran one or two steps ahead of her for two reasons: 1) Every gentleman knows the rule that says a gentleman should not climb the stairs behind a lady; in the same vein… and 2) I needed to guard my eyes and my heart.
There are some lessons I learnt from the times we ran together and I am going to link them with some spiritual lessons.
When I decided to start running, if I had waited for my roommates, I would never have run for a single day because they never joined.
If you want to run the Christian race, don’t wait for anyone before you start. Have you not put off your salvation for too long? ‘Not tonight, I’ll get saved by and by.’ How much longer are you going to keep waiting for that friend of yours to decide before you surrender your life to Jesus? If you want to start a relationship with Jesus, now is the time to start.
When Vivian and I ran, one of the things I discovered was that I couldn’t run beyond her strength. I remember how I would run ahead of her and have to sometimes slow down because of her. There was a roundabout we used to turn back at that time. When we got there, I would keep jogging on the spot while Vivian would be resting and trying to catch her breath before we begin the home-run. Later, Vivian joined a gym club in town and I had to run alone and visit another lodge to lift some weights. You know what? On one of the days I ran alone, I ran almost double the distance I used to run with Vivian.
When you want to run the Christian race with someone, don’t run with someone who will limit you. Get a prayer partner who can stretch your faith. Find someone who will provoke you to love more. If possible, marry someone who will challenge you to greater heights. If running with someone is keeping you from running farther, run alone!
Running requires self-discipline. It wasn’t easy for me to get up very early in the cold mornings of the North, and run through the streets just to shed some weight. It took self-discipline.
Paul wrote, “Now every athlete who [goes into training and] competes in the games IS DISCIPLINED AND EXERCISES SELF-CONTROL IN ALL THINGS… Therefore I do not run without a definite goal; I do not flail around like one beating the air [just shadow boxing]. But [like a boxer] I STRICTLY DISCIPLINE MY BODY AND MAKE IT MY SLAVE, so that, after I have preached [the gospel] to others, I myself will not somehow be disqualified [as unfit for service].” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27, AMP, Emphasis Added.)
Being a Christian requires discipline. It requires having control over the desires of your flesh. It requires denying your body of some pleasures. It requires regulating what you allow your eyes to see.
Dear reader, when you decide to run, you need to decide like a man I read about did. Christian was his name, and he’s the protagonist in John Bunyan’s classic, The Pilgrim’s Progress. After heeding Evangelist’s warning to “flee from the wrath to come,” he began to run.
Bunyan wrote, “So I saw in my dream that the man began to run. Now, he had not run far from his own door, but his wife and children, perceiving it, began to cry after him to return; but the man put his fingers in his ears, and ran on, crying, “Life! life! eternal life!” Luke 14:26. So he looked not behind him, Genesis 19:17, but fled towards the middle of the plain.”
As Christian ran, Bunyan continues, “The neighbours also came out to see him run; Jeremiah 20:10; and, as he ran, some mocked, others threatened, and some cried after him to return; and, among those that did so, there were two that resolved to fetch him back by force.”
Friend, a time will come in your Christian journey that some will be determined to bring you back, but you must be determined like Christian and boldly declare, “That can by no means be!”
It is dangerous to start running and stop half-way. When I stopped running for a while, I remember how my muscles began to ache.
When you have no partner, run.
When your partners turn back or change route, you continue to run.
When the desires of the flesh act like pebbles in your shoes, ‘bring your body under [control]’ and continue your race.
When your strength is small, ask for grace and continue to run. Run! Run! Run till you reach the golden shores and hear, “Welcome, good and faithful servant.”
If you are still running, I pray you continue to run faithfully till Jesus comes or calls you home.
If you have quit, or are about to, I pray you find new strength to get back on track, and run.
If you have not begun this Christian race, I pray this post gives you the courage to pick up the baton and start running.
And when you decide to run, make sure you run to the end.