Endurance.

So, as some of you know, I recently started working out. This is a big deal for me. I hate working out. It is the bane of my existence. You may think I’m exaggerating, but it’s completely true. I am a total drama queen when it comes to exercise, just ask my best friend, who constantly tried to get me to enjoy it when we were in highschool, lol. Anyways, I’ve really been finding out the benefits of exercise lately, and I’ve been unhappy with how out of shape I am, so I decided to suck it up and start working out. And I’m actually starting to not hate it. I don’t like it yet-let’s not go too far-but, I don’t despise it as much as I used to. I’ve been trying to run 3 times a week, and use a DVD for toning twice a week. They’re both a LOT of work. Running is hard, but it’s also easier to slack off, so you have to be careful. The DVD is killer, and those girls on it make me mad. How is it possible that they’re working out on a beach, and yet they’re still able to breathe and their makeup isn’t melting off? But anyway…I digress.

I’ve come to realize that I go through 3 stages when I’m running. At first, I love it. I’m glad I’ve gotten out to do it, and it’s actually relaxing in a way-it just kind of makes all the stress of the day melt away. But then when I get to the middle of my run, I feel like I might die before it’s over. I’m tired, sweaty, and I just want to go back home and sit in the AC. I really have to push myself to get through the middle of it. However, once I do, the last third of the run is so much easier. I’m still tired, but I’ve gotten over the hump, and I know I’m on the homestretch. And knowing that I pushed through makes me feel really good about myself. Also, knowing that I can push my body to do things I didn’t think I could get through is pretty empowering.

I do interval training when I run-meaning, I walk for a couple minutes, run for a couple minutes, and so on. I listen to my iPod when I’m out there, which really motivates me to get through the runs, but when I’m walking, my mind tends to wander, and I think a lot. And something that I’ve come to realize while I’m out there is that working out-especially running-is a great example of how we are to live our Christian life.

I truly believe that physical pain and habits help us develop deeper spiritual principals. I’m not talking about weird stuff-don’t go cutting yourself or something. I’m just saying, things that hurt your flesh, like fasting or working out, can really help you go deeper with God. Keeping our flesh under helps us to learn to delay gratification, and rely on God to get us through. Working out and eating healthy definitely teaches you to ignore your flesh! Trust me, if you listen to your flesh, you’ll never even get off the couch to go exercise. I know, because that’s how I used to be. However, the definition of crazy is doing the same thing you’ve always done, yet expecting a different result. I finally got sick of letting my flesh boss me around, and decided to do something about it. And I feel like in doing so, I am not only getting more healthy physically, but spiritually as well.

The Bible talks a lot about endurance, and also running. Many times, they are mentioned together. I think this is important, and I think that now that I’ve been running, I can understand them a little more. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 is probably one of the most well known passages of the New Testament, and it’s specifically about running a race. “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 a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” That’s a pretty intense passage. But I find  so much truth in it. When I go running, I get hot. I get tired. I get sweaty. Sometimes, I feel sick-like I might pass out, or throw up. But I just keep going. I push myself through, because I will not let my flesh control me. I will not give up on something that I know I can do. And that’s the way we have to be in our spiritual life. Why do we give up so easily? Why do we disqualify ourselves from the prize? The Bible says we can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens us. So why are we such pansies about things? When I run, I end up accomplishing things that I had no idea I could do. That could happen to us in our spiritual lives too, if we would just endure! Who wants to let their flesh rule them? I mean, when you think about all the things that you can do with God’s resurrection power inside of you, why would you want to let your weak, worldly flesh make decisions for you?

When I let my flesh talk me out of exercising, or talk me into finishing early and taking the easy way out, I end up feeling like a loser. When I push myself through, I’m like “haha! I did it! Take that!” lol In the spiritual realm, when we push through, we get a prize. We have something to strive for, we’re not pushing through for nothing. I love what Phillippians 3:12-14 says about it: Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Jesus Christ took hold of for me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. I love that!! Even though we’re not perfect and we haven’t obtained it yet, we still PRESS ON. You just keep going. Like Dory said in Finding Nemo-when life’s got you down, you just keep swimming! lol Really, what else is there to do? You can quit and be a big whiny baby about things, or you can suck it up and actually press on towards the goal and give yourself a chance at the prize! It’s not a hard decision to make. Yeah, it’s harder to follow through. But you get a lot more out of it! I think one of the most important things is to have a goal. We have to remember that God has a plan for us and that’s what we’re running for. When I’m running, I have to set goals for myself or else it’s easy for me to give up. When I tell myself “Ok, I’m going to run the length of this road” or “I’m going to run for 2 more minutes” I find myself making sure I fulfill those goals. I don’t want to be a quitter. I think it would be so much easier for us to endure God’s race if we remember that He has a plan for us, that our running has a purpose.

I could go on about this, but I feel like I’m getting repetitive. It’s already taken me like 3 weeks to get this out, lol. I’ll end with one more of my favorite verses, which pretty much sums it up: 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. Hebrews 12:1

“I’ll say goodbye to my father, my mother. Turn my back on every other lover, and press on, yes I’ll press on.” –Misty Edwards

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