I ran 20 miles yesterday! I’m not bragging. It wasn’t easy. Not.at.all. To begin with, I was awakened at 4am. I didn’t get back to sleep. I attended 10am service, arrived home about 12:15 and left to meet my run group about an hour later. It was over 80 degrees, and our normally flat option was not available to us. Instead, we ran the route typically reserved for about 6-7 miles. I wanted to quit so many times – I can’t even tell you how many. The first 10 miles, I wore my hydration bag on my back. It had gatorade, apples, peanut butter, a banana, nuts, a towel and my keys. Three words: too much weight! I assumed everything I had was necessary, but in reality, it was not. It weighed me down. It made me tired. I didn’t use everything, particularly the liquid, which took up the most space and contributed significantly to the weight of the backpack. As I considered the heaviness of my load, I reflected upon how much I carry that God never intended for me. If that feels anywhere near what I experienced (and I’m about 99% convinced that it does), then I’ve been wasting a lot of precious energy, not to mention the fact of paying for something that was previously purchased, at the expense of Jesus’ crucifixion.
God never intended for us to go this alone, and to be sure, not weighted down. I certainly don’t present myself as one of those have to do it alone or I don’t need anybody’s help, I can do it myself persons. However, circumstance coupled with predicability in others that hasn’t always yielded a positive, proactive response has led me to preparing for the journey in isolation. The full hydration pack is symbolism of carrying what I believe I need so as not to fall short on my expectations of others – but I never intended to demonstrate that said thinking in the direction of my Creator. After all, no one knows what I need more besides him. I suppose you could say that I have foolishly believed that much of the assistance I needed was too minuscule as compared with his addressing of the more important ills of this world. Yet, that thinking is not scriptural. In fact, God instructs us to cast all our cares upon him because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
While I ran those first 10 miles, I was with a portion of my running group. The other three women had hydration packs as well, but with less items inside. I was hot. One of my friends’ reminded me that I had a cool towel inside. She got it out of my backpack for me. Another friend had these energy jelly beans. Even though I had some as well in my backpack (forgot about naming that), she shared hers with me. Still another friend brought freeze pops for each of us and shared them. I sipped my gatorade from time to time, but the apples, banana and peanut butter went untouched. Funny even that most of what I consumed, came from others instead of myself. On this journey, it is totally appropriate to demonstrate trust and reliance on others. Just because you’ve been disappointed in the past and built a mechanism to be self-sufficient doesn’t mean that we can’t trust again.
After the first 10 miles, we returned to the area where our cars were parked to meet a standing run group. We were scheduled to run 3 miles with the group – but we ended up doing 4. This time, I left my backpack in my car. I carried two small bottles of gatorade. Before we set out again, I ate my banana. The heat continued to follow us, but I ran so much lighter. I was not burdened down by my weight. I enjoyed conversation. When I didn’t participate in discussion, I enjoyed my music. I noticed my surroundings. I refrained from considering hanging up my dream of finishing and experienced the joy of projection. Yes, this run was indeed shorter, but the temperature was not different, and the hills were still evident. The single most important factor at operation was that I carried a lighter load, which impacted my thinking. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he (Psalm 23:7). Not much different from other portions of the run, I was a little behind my run group. My pace was definitely reflective of the heat and my heavy legs. However, on this portion, I didn’t compare myself or get discouraged at the fact that I couldn’t always keep up. Another lesson emerged. When we run the race that has been set before us, that is individually, not collectively, we receive the benefit of the witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) customized to us. We receive the encouragement tailored to what we need. If I were not running alone, I may have missed what God had meticulously designed for me.
After this portion of the run, I ate the apples I packed. I elected to refuel a portion of my water bottles. I’d not drank all of what I brought. That surprised me. Normally when I run three miles I go through two bottles. This time, I ran 4 and I’d barely finished one bottle. I was concerned about running out, so I only used what I needed. That could preach right there! Recall the woman in the Bible who was going to loose her sons because she had not money to pay her bills after her husbands’ death? The only thing she had was a small portion of oil. Remember the prophet instructed her to secure many bottles – which her sons did. She poured the oil into the bottles, and ended up with oil left? (2 Kings 4) That is how I felt! I couldn’t believe I had drink left. This consideration blessed me! As we prepared for the final portion of our long run, I elected to carry that energy and thinking to the ending. I could have returned to utility of my hydration pack – but when we find what works for us, there is no need to change course.
Again, I ran without the backpack. Everyone was tired but determined to finish. Often times, we are not witness to when others run out of steam. We can get trapped into thinking that we are the only ones. Everyone has a place of reckoning – we are just not always witness to it. The enemy would have us to believe that we are the only ones. His logic is deep, but it lacks depth. God is orchestrating each of our paths. The end goal is eternal life. There are many rivers to cross before we get there, but the operative portion of the experience is getting there; which after 5 and one half hours, we did…at least back to our cars, which in actuality felt like what I imagine heaven to be! We finished together, and even if we hadn’t, we would have waited for each other to do so. Heavy is indeed the load, but it doesn’t have to be. Again on this longer leg of the stretch, I had drink left over. It surprised me as well as my group. One person said, “How do you have drink leftover?” Travel light friends and see that you’ll still have reserve.