I learned a pretty valuable lesson this week while I nursed my injured knee. I’m no doctor, so I don’t know the exact diagnosis, but basically my knee is in a lot of pain. It hurts to go up and down stairs and I have a slight limp in my walk.
I do know how that injury occurred, though. That mistake is my main reasoning for writing this blog.
I’m not an avid runner. I stay in relatively ok shape, but I don’t stick with a routine. This past week I got the urge to go on a run and quickly gave in to that feeling before I could talk myself out of it. I started running without really having a planned route. When I came back, I realized I had gone 4 miles. I was surprised by the results and became excited to try running again in the near future. The very next day, I decided to go another 4 miles. At about the three mile mark, I noticed a sharp pain in my left knee. I walked the last mile back to my house and started to ice my knee.
After telling experienced runners about running 8 miles within 24 hours after not running at all in a few months, this was their reaction:
As I sit here and think about my knee injury, I can’t help but think about the great race of life.
Christians run the race of life with the hopes that they will come face to face with Christ at the finish line. They do not know exactly when that time will come or what it will look like, but it’s one of the motivating forces that keep them running the great race. They do not seek to finish in first place, they seek to cross that finish line.
Most runners keep their body in shape by stretching and eating healthy. Oftentimes Christians try to stay in “spiritual-shape” by praying and being involved in a church community. But most importantly, the smart runners and the smart Christians are the ones who pace themselves.
When I felt like I hadn’t run in a long time, I decided to go run 8 miles within 24 hours. Not exactly the brightest idea. Now I have to suffer the consequences. If I had instead ran two miles for a few days, then slowly increased my way up to four or more miles over a course of a few weeks, I probably wouldn’t have encountered such an injury.
In the great race of life, we must pace ourselves; realizing that we are not in a 50 meter dash, but a marathon. There will be times when we want to stop and sit down in the middle of the path and quit the race all together. There will be times when we want to sprint ahead at full force until we run out of energy. We must keep moving and we must pace ourselves.
Some of us are out of spiritual shape because we’ve been “injured” or because we haven’t “exercised” in a long time. Just like a physical body needs to stay active to be healthy, so too does our spiritual life. If you are out of spiritual shape, I encourage you to start exercising. If you have been spiritually injured and it prevents you from running the race, I encourage you today to work on recovering. How you go about exercising and/or recovering is unique for each person and situation, but we must continue running the great race.
I will continue to nurse my knee back to health this week, then I plan to get back to running. When I do start running again, I will start off slow and work my way up.
Will you join me in running the race? If you’re not spiritually healthy, find a workout partner to go to the “gym” with. If you’ve been injured, go see a “doctor” who can help you on your road to recovery.
If and when you do these things, take my advice: Pace yourself. Don’t overwhelm yourself. You’re part of a great marathon, not a sprint. It’s not about being able to run faster than everybody else, it’s about finishing.
“Let us…persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:2