As I may have shared, I’ve been training to run a marathon for the last three months. Don’t ask what made me arrive at such a decision. I secretly blame the women in my run group. In my imagination, I’ve painted a vivid picture of being tied up after running about eight miles in humidity over 90%, with no access to electrolytes, and not even a towel to wipe my brow. In my desperate attempt to be liberated, I make a vow to run a marathon. Nice, right? But seriously, the agreement occurred a few months ago, over dinner and we happened to have a friend who’d previously trained and ran a marathon, that agreed to coach us along the way. Eventually, she elected to run it with us. So, no harrowing story, but I imagine that as grueling as it may be race day, it cannot compare to the training that has occurred to date.
As I learn the culture of running, one of the accouterments that accompany the sport are providing cues. For example, while running in a group, and another group is spotted ahead, coming into your direction, someone yells, “runners up.” The same is true for a group behind, “runners back.” Or perhaps there is a curb. The first person approaching may yell, “Curb!” Interestingly enough, whenever the cue is stated, it is the responsibility of the group to echo the announcement, to ensure that everyone is aware. Another one, that I like to think of as the “Beyonce” is “On your left.” This notification implies that someone is passing on the left side of your body. Usually, they are attempting to maintain a particular speed and do not plan to slow down. I began to consider as to whether the enemy is a runner but more importantly, I thought he doesn’t appear to live by the cue culture. His consideration is non apparent as he wrecks havoc ahead, behind and definitely on your left.
Interestingly enough, some people abide by the “On your left” culture. From a good distance behind, they announce their pending arrival. if you hear them, you can make preparations. For instance, you may move to the right side of the pavement to ensure safe passage. Yet, more often than not, tribulation doesn’t announce itself. It is more likened to the individuals who refuse to announce their arrival, or rather interruption in your flow, and more importantly, refuse to diminish their speed in order to pass. After they nearly mow you down, they are off to the next victim. This is particularly true if the person is passing with the assistance of another mechanism besides their feet, like a bike or skates or even a skateboard. Their speed is much faster and the potential for risk is much higher. It’s in those times that I feel like I want to introduce a new sport…boxing! Which is why we must remain on guard and not give place to the enemy (Ephesians 4:27). Is it easy? Simply put No! Yet, we must develop our own counter culture to override that which is not beneficial to our journey. Here’s why.
Many folks who run, do so without the utility of headphones. They suggest that doing so enables them to hear their breathing more effectively, the cadence of their feet hitting the pavement, as well as their surroundings. As we walk out our faith, we must be intentional about what we allow in our ear gate. Yet we also must be deliberate about our ear hustling with God. To what extent must we make time to seek his voice? To hear his subtle cues about situations that we may very well be able to prepare more effectively to enter or avoid all together? The Word of God states that neither plague shall come nigh thy dwelling (Psalm 91:10), but we often beckon trouble simply because we refuse to be doers of the Word, and opt to be hearers only (James 1:22). God is calling us to a higher standard of accountability, and we can meet that expectation by not only hearing what he says, but responding in action.
Other folk who mean no malice by passing and call out ‘On your left,” can be distracting, and sometimes even cause a ping of jealousy. They appear to be getting to the destination you desire, but at a much faster pace. The Word of God tells us to not curse small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10). Just because you are not moving at their same pace, doesn’t mean you too won’t get to where you desire. It’s a trick of the enemy to have you to believe that there is only one reward at the end of this Christian race. The devil is a liar and a deceiver. What God has for you, is for you! Whether it’s within regulation time, or when everyone has seemingly left the grounds. Let us remember to run with patience the race that has been set before us (Hebrews 12:1).
Providing cues is a learned behavior – but only from God. As we spend greater amount of time and energy in God, we are availed to his truth, his will and his way. He always has our best interest at heart. He is always guiding and directing. Even when we encounter perceived trouble along our path, we must believe that he ordained it to be so because he recognizes the value of the training we’ve had in him, and he confidently allows obstacles because he recognizes our ability through him to navigate them appropriately. And as we assimilate to the culture of cues, we can positively assist others. One of the things I appreciate most about running is the people that cheer you on along the way. You don’t have to know them, nor they you, but there is a gingered sense of connectedness and appreciation for the effort, so much so that well wishes bubble out, providing encouragement and affirmation. Just as God has strategically placed these blessed strangers along the way, so must we assume said positions for others who also need goodwill.
The enemy is not selective about who he desires to subdue. Each of us, as he recognizes our potential will have our day under his microscope. But fear not! There is a an open cue for him as well, and it ain’t pretty! Every now and then, it’s only proper to remind him of “Under my feet,” where he will spend eternity. His fate is sealed, but there is opportunity for ours to be modified. What might God be cueing for you today? Let us make sure we follow his cue so we don’t have the fate of his (and our) foe.