Today I went for a short run before the summer heat and humidity rose too much. The forecast high in Charlotte is 93. On many of my runs I get ideas for my posts on my blog and that was the case today.
The thought popped into my mind that I have been running over 40 years. It’s actually been 42 years as I started in the 10th grade in Atlanta, Georgia. Through high school, prep school, college and then for a time afterwords, I enjoyed success as a long distance runner… the longer the distance the more competitive I was. My last major run in a competition was the Louisville Marathon in 1985. Since that time, I’ve run primarily to stay healthy, fit and manage my stress. I also enjoy it.
As my thoughts during my run continued, I wondered how many miles I might have run over the years. I suspected that I could come up with a pretty good estimate because I kept good records when I was competing in school and afterwords for a while. When I finished my run, showered and ate, I went upstairs to pull my running logs off the shelf of my bookcase. I used 3-ring spiral notebooks, typically using one page to log my running efforts during each week.
Looking over the notebooks revealed some neat facts and memories. On Sunday, September 1, 1968, I ran my 1000th mile. During three years of high school, I logged 1,914 miles. The most covered in one day was 18 and the most in a week was 60. At West Point, I ran during cross country, indoor and outdoor track. At the peak of my competitiveness, I was averaging close to 8 miles/day and on Thursday, December 13th, 1973, I passed the 10,000 mile mark!
Over the last 25 years or so, my runs have been about 2-3 miles and I’ve gotten out two or three times a week. By my calculations, I have covered approximately 39,000 miles over these last 42 years. Wow! I had no idea. I am amazed that my joints, especially my knees, have held out. It’s a good thing that I have not continued with the competitive running. I can’t imagine that my knees would still be hanging in there if that was the case.
I have had a major shift in my overall motivation for working out and staying in shape in the last handful of years. It’s so that I can stay healthy which helps me better do the work that God calls me to do. I know that I am more alert, have more energy and can stay better focused when I work out on a regular basis. Keeping fit also contributes to reducing my chances of the many lifestyle-related diseases that could set in and hamper my efforts to do things for God.
Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2:10 that “We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Certainly, it is a miracle in itself that God designed the human body so that it could run 39,000 miles and more over a lifetime. He has put our bodies together in unimaginable ways. My Heart has beaten at least 1.8 trillion times over the last 58 years. Imagine that! Another miracle.
In 1 Timothy 4:7-8 we are reminded by Paul “Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness. Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important for it promises a reward in both this life and the next.” (New Living Translation – First Edition)
Clearly there is much benefit to being physically fit, but it is even more important to be spiritually fit. Spiritual exercises like reading the Bible, praying, surrendering to God, serving others and forgiving others are all important aspects of one’s spiritual fitness program.
The writer of Hebrews encourages us to run the race that God has set before us and we are to do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. (See Hebrews 12:1-2) In the middle of the 12th chapter, we are encouraged to mark out a straight path for our feet so those who follow us will not stumble and fail but will become strong.
I’m thankful to God that I’m still able to enjoy my short runs and that while I am on them, He gives me the inspiration and creativity from which I can share spiritual truths with my readers. I’m also thankful that He has given me the ‘work’ to encourage others of the faith to “remain on a straight path.” I pray that He is also using me to share the Gospel with those who do not know Him.
In the ‘race’ of your life, don’t give up. Stay the course. If you are a believer, others are watching you and many need to experience the love of Jesus that flows through you. Go deeper in your faith. If you don’t know God in a personal way and are looking for spiritual strength to help you cope with the stressors of life, consider accepting Jesus into your heart and receive His strength, peace and joy.
Questions to Ask Yourself
What ‘work’ has God called you to do? Is your health an obstacle for doing this ‘work?’
How spiritually fit are you? Are you engaged in meaning spiritual exercises throughout each week?
Do you have real peace, joy and hope because you experience Jesus’ love?
Related Material I’ve Written on Spiritual Fitness and The Connection
Article – An Introduction to Spiritual Exercises
Article – Assessing Your Spiritual Fitness
“For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love. You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom.” Galatians 5:6-8