The Race We Run

October 25, 2021

When my son Nathan was preparing for Basic Training, I offered to train with him. [Pause for laughter.]

It was a running/calisthenics program. Calisthenics, I love. Running, only if someone is chasing me. I love to walk and hike but prefer to leave running to those who experience the pleasure of God through it.

God revealed a couple of things as I gasped for air. He uses any and all means to teach us about Himself and ourselves. For that, I am truly grateful.

Not surprisingly, I was slower than my strong, spry then-twenty-year-old son. We started together, but it wasn’t long before my shorter, older, less fit legs struggled to keep up. I encouraged him to run ahead and circle back from time to time to be sure I hadn’t collapsed by the side of the road.

Sometimes, I walked to catch my breath. Sometimes I ran, but slower and rather ungracefully (ok, let’s just be clear, it was jogging). But I moved forward—one step at a time.

Sometimes, we run the race of this Christian life with gusto. Other times, we slow, we walk, we crawl, we heave and gasp, we look ungraceful. What does our heavenly Father see? He sees His precious child, picking up her cross, and following Him, in the strength He provides, at the pace He sets, with the grace given by our loving Father, Himself. What is He doing while He’s watching? He’s rejoicing over us with loud singing. That’s what He’s doing, y’all.

While we were running, my neighbor saw me trailing behind and encouraged me. God does that too. He sends encouragement through varied means to spur us along. Her encouragement came by way of a very loud, “Come on, Gina! My mother runs faster than you!” Hey, we can’t always choose the kind of encouragement we get, but we can recognize it when it comes.

I had the brilliant idea to add more weight to his workout and level the playing field a bit (I know, who am I kidding?). So I strapped our youngest in her wheelchair/stroller hybrid, and Nate pushed her as he ran. The combined weight was approximately 80 additional pounds—and a little girl giggling in delight.

Sometimes our race feels unencumbered, free and easy. Other times, it can feel like we are pushing a square wheel up a jagged mountain. God is with us in equal amounts in both scenarios, whispering words of faith, surrender, love, and promise every step of the way as we get stronger.

One training day, my then-15-year-old wanted to join. He’s the tallest in our family, with the longest legs, and he likes to run. Needless to say, he left us both in the dust, gracefully flying ahead, feeling the pleasure of God, and occasionally circling back to check on us. He, however, deals with frequent pain that is further exacerbated by physical activity. It’s a condition invisible to the eye.

Everyone’s race looks different, doesn’t it? Some look easier than ours, some look harder. Nearly all of the time we are not fully aware of the entanglements that hinder or the freed shackles that lighten. We should never assume we know the whole story by what we observe.

Let’s not judge. Let’s not compare. Let’s remember Who has called us to race. It’s the One who races with us, encouraging us with the kind of encouragement we need. The trustworthy I Am who determines the weight of our load, the type of terrain we travel, and those with whom we journey. He’s the loving Father who promises His presence and His delight in us—every step of the way!

And when the running was done, guess what! We all arrived at the same place—safely home. One day, sisters, so will we.

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