YAASSSS! Spring has arrived in Minnesota!
The usual clues are showing up. Most noticeably, the orange traffic cones reminding us of the road construction we have to maneuver through. Parkas have been replaced with rain jackets and the icicles hanging from our roofs have melted away.
Another clue is the swarm of runners. You can tell they’ve been itching to get out running without the icy roads and sleety weather. They are everywhere! Very cool.
Do you enjoy running? If you do, I applaud you! I’m truly impressed. Consider yourself high-five’d. If you don’t? Me neither. I sure wish I could call myself a runner. I’m more of a wogger (if that’s even a word). I walk and every once in awhile I move into a little jog. I’ve just never enjoyed running.
Perhaps it’s because of the memories from Phy. Ed. physical fitness tests years ago. Remember them? Every spring we’d have to go through a fitness assessment that included an obstacle course (anyone besides me hate to crawl on your belly with your butt in the air?), a rope climb (we had never, ever climbed a rope), jumping the hurdles (who thought that was a good idea?), and … running. That was the worst. The running.
In my hometown of Climax, MN, we would run the bus track behind the school. I don’t remember how many times we circled that gravel road, but I do remember how painful the whole experience was.
After the first … oh, several hundred feet … my knees and thighs would start to hurt, and I’d get a little winded. The longer I ran, the more my legs hurt and my lungs burned. And of course, the more they hurt, the more I focused on the pain! You get this, right? “Oh, my poor knee….I think my lungs are going to explode…I can’t breathe…this hurts too much…I think my leg is falling off…I wonder if anyone would care if I just laid down on this horrible road and died right here.”
Yes, running was hard work.
But the biggest problem was between my ears. My mind. My thinking.
The more I focused on how tired I was, the ache in my knee, and the fire burning in my lungs … the harder the run got.
That describes some moments in my life.
I’m caught up in a frustration or mini-crisis or a tough situation, and all I can think about is how hard it is. Single focus on what’s not good. Nothing exists except the “you’ve got to be kidding me” scenario. You too?
And yet …
I know, I know, I know, that if I stopped focusing only on the current messy moment, and shifted my attention to other things, it wouldn’t seem so awful. And truth be told, most often the messy is not something I can control. Or fix. So why spend so much time fixated on it?
The situation that’s creating this mini-melt-down is only one piece of my life. There’s a whole bunch of other stuff going on in my life – and a lot of it is good. I’ve just stopped seeing it.
What if we stop focusing on the messy and look for the good?
What if we choose to look for the encouraging words from a good book, the promises God has given us in the Bible, the spirited, energy-raising words from a great song?
We have a choice when we’re running and when we’re in the messy.
We choose where we are looking, what we are thinking about.
Here’s the really cool thing …
You know what the best part of any race is?
The cheering. The excitement that comes from people in the bleachers or standing alongside the road jumping up and down, waving their posters, and screaming from their bellies for those runners brave enough to run around in shorts.
Oh, it feels so good to hear the cheers, and to bring the cheers, doesn’t it?
God knows that we need that cheering. So, He reminds us of this promise in His Good Book:
“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.”
(Paul wrote that in the 12th chapter of the book of Hebrews while he was in prison.)
Isn’t that cool!
All of heaven is cheering us on! I can just see those saints who’ve gone before us, peering through the clouds, leaning over the sunbeams, elbowing each other to get a good view, shouting and encouraging us …
“Look at her go! You’ve got this! Keep going! Don’t stop now! You’re doing great!”
My friend, whether we walk, wog, or run … let’s keep going.
Let’s not quit.
When our knees and lungs and hearts and souls start to hurt, let’s look around and find that one beautiful reminder … that one thing that takes us away from the messy for a moment.
We can do this.
All of heaven is cheering us on.