You Gotta Put in the Time

9:03 AMHeather

Last Saturday, I went for a run with my husband.  Okay. That may be overstating it.  Here's what actually happened.  We had decided to get up and run before the heat of the day.  Ha.  That was a joke.  I slept until 10 am, right through the alarm.  I was so tempted to roll over and go back to sleep, even then.  In fact, the only reason I didn't was because I grabbed my phone and scrolled through Facebook.  Two friends posted that they had just finished their first 5K.  Three other friends had just finished a morning run.  Hmpf.  Peer pressure is alive and well, folks.  Even in your 40's.  

So, I sorta slinked out of bed, stretching out my darn sciatica that makes me look like an 80 year old trying to walk after months of being bed ridden.  I got my running clothes on and laced up my super fun running shoes.  My husband had fallen back asleep on the couch while waiting for me to come down for our run.  But, alas, we decided to be Nike.  Just do it.

Off we went.  And for the first block, I was thinking, "Oh yeah.  I can do this."  Some friends drove by and yelled their encouragement for us.  I was feeling pretty good then.  Pony tail swishing.  Keeping up with the Joneses--those fit friends of mine who conquer runs I can only dream of at this point.  Wind whipping through my hair as I sped forward.  (That may or may not be an exaggeration of how quickly I was actually running.)  And so it was for that first mile.  I was feeling pretty good about myself.  

Then, it happened.  All my prideful motivations and boastful thoughts hit by the heat of the day and my lack of endurance.  My legs started giving out a bit, and I was just struggling.  Who am I kidding?  I thought.  I haven't run in ten days.  I can't just get out here and conquer some major run out of nowhere.  By about the mile-and-a-half mark, I had to walk.  It was that uphill part of our route where I either go on like Rocky or crash and burn.  That day, it was definitely the latter.  My husband tried to encourage me.  We walked briskly, and I tried to regroup.  Except I seriously thought I might throw up.  

We walked on, and I thought after a bit that I just might be able to run again.  Think again.  That's when things got really ugly.  I was walking.  I was moving forward.  But, what I really wanted was to sit down and have my husband go get the car to drive me home.  Um, yeah.  We were about a half-mile from home by then.  It was pathetic really.  And then I had my epiphany.

I gotta put in the time.  Discipline.  Plain and simple.  The hard work.  The sweat.  The regular effort.  Consistently training.  I can't just wake up after ten days of NOT running and think I'll just knock out a 5K.  Because I want to be like someone else.  Or because I want to be perceived a certain way.  Or because I want to earn an identity I have yet to earn.  I can't be a runner if I don't run.  Duh.

Same goes for my walk with Christ.  I can't just think, "Oh, I want to be close to God and feel His presence and be all super Christian" without putting in the effort.  I can't expect to reach something for which I have yet to put in the time.  I can't be a follower of Christ without seeking him for days on end and then expect it to just happen.  I have to be disciplined.  To get up early.  To spend time in His word.  To spend time praying.  To seek Him.  Consistently.  And like running, the more I do it, the more organic it feels.  The more rewards I reap.  And, the more intimacy I gain with Him.  I can't just wake up today and think, "today, I'm going to have an incredibly close relationship with Christ!"  Boom.  And expect that will do it.  Sure, wanting it is the first step.  Like running, it's great to want to run.  But, I gotta actually DO it to make progress.  Wanting it doesn't make it happen.

I get lazy, I must admit.  I let days go by, going on my own steam.  And like my run last Saturday, it can get ugly really quick.  I crash and burn.  I get overheated and fatigued and I just want to collapse.   Oh, yes.  I remember this.  If I want to run the race for Christ, pressing on and moving forward and making progress, then I must be disciplined every day.  I regularly have to put the time in. There's just no short cut.  If I want to be so close to Him that I feel peace and joy and hope and bask in His love, then I must be disciplined to spend time with Him.  To read His Word.  To pray.  To apply what I learn.  And the more I do it, the more natural it is.  And the more endurance I build.  

I would really like to just wake up one day and suddenly be a half-marathoner.  Or maybe even a marathoner?  But, wishing it can't make it happen.  I must pound the pavement.  I must regularly be in the business of doing what it takes to be who I would like to be.

How I want to walk so closely to the Lord that my life changes.  My words change.  My actions change.  My thought life even changes.  But, I gotta put in the time.  And stand on the promises that His word does not return void.  Ever.  And know that when I seek Him, I will find Him.

Whether I'm nearly passed out on the hot sidewalk or crossing the finish line with arms held high in victory.   

   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 someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27

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