I have a medal board hanging right next to my treadmill. I use it for inspiration, especially when motivation wanes like the moon. On the medal board it says:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
– Philippians 4:13
I like that passage. I think most of us do. And while I take some liberties to apply it to my running (in truth it hasn’t nothing to do with human accomplishments), it does offer comfort and assurance to remember that our Savior is on our side, day in and day out. Through him we gain all things; we gain everything! Heaven. Forgiveness of sins. Freedom from death and the power of the devil. If Christ is for me, who can be against me?
This passage has served me well as a kind of mantra; something to repeat in my head when times get tough, whether during a run, or when life seems unbearable. It’s easy to get lost and want to quit when you hurting through a 15 mile long run. It’s easy to want to give up when kids get sick, or debt seems insurmountable. The temptation to throw in the towel and scream, “That’s it! I’m done!” is unbelievable strong. This passage from Philippians offers comfort, guidance, assurance and faith-strengthening power.
That passage has served me well, but I found a another that seems to fit where I am in life; the things I’m going through, and the struggles I have with my running:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you where ever you go.”
– Joshua 1:9
To be completely honest, I’m terrified of a lot. Some of my fears are completely irrational, like a clown hiding in my closet or a killer in my backseat. (Go ahead and laugh; I have an active imagination.) Some of my fears are completely rational and common. Things most people fear: something happening to my children or spouse, whether or not our nation can heal itself from all the violence and hatred that seems to perpetuate everything, natural disasters, illness, etc. I think we all have a very real awareness that bad things can and do happen, and we are powerless to stop it.
I also have a lot of fear in running. I’m afraid of the pain. I’m afraid of failing. I’m afraid my best will never be good enough. Strange, isn’t it? Something I love causes me to be afraid. It doesn’t make much sense, but that’s part of the reason I do it.
Because I don’t want to be afraid anymore.
I don’t want to constantly live in fear that my child will get cancer or my husband will die. I don’t want to be afraid to run a marathon because it’s so long, and it will hurt. I don’t want to be afraid to try a new career, open a business, or dream big because I’m terrified of failure. I don’t want to lock my kids inside and helicopter them because I’m afraid the second I turn my back someone will snatch them away, or they’ll fall and break a leg.
Because I’m doubting. I’m doubting the love and promises of my Savior. Every time I let fear told a hold of my heart, I’m doubting.
The passage first enter my head on a run. I was struggling and in a lot of pain and trying to pull it together. I spend a lot of my runs praying or just talking to God in random thoughts. I also like to focus on a particular question I have from God’s Word or worries that bother me. When I’m struggling during a run, I pray, and almost as if in response, the passage popped into my head.
That passage from Joshua gives me so much comfort. I can dream big and pursue even terrifying dreams, like qualifying for Boston or getting my masters, because no matter the outcome, the Lord is with me.
When life’s trials blast me, I can rest on the promise in that passage. I don’t have to be discouraged, my Heavenly Father is with me. I have no reason to fear, in fact, God tells me to be courageous. There is nothing I can do, no place I can go, that will separate me from the love of God or the assurance of his presence.
Christ gives me courage. Every time I want to start doubting, I can repeat that passage from Joshua.
When I sit at the bedside of a sick loved one.
When I wait for my husband to drive through a blizzard to come home.
When I’m afraid of a miscarriage or loss of an unborn.
When I’m forced to move and start over.
When I’m on a twenty mile long run.
When I have to confront someone I love about a sin.
When someone points out my sin.
Be strong and courageous. The Lord is with me. No matter where I go or what I do, he is with me. There is no greater comfort, and nothing I can do for myself that will ever replace a promise of God.
I may have a new running mantra, but I also have a promise to carry through life.