I am a runner. Despite my rather large size and round shape, I love running and so far I've had a minor accomplishment in my running career. Namely, there's a 13.1 sticker on my car window and I didn't lie or cheat or anything. The accomplishment of literally reaching a new milestone is utterly enriching, and it keeps me going. That and the occasional runner's high that I get. Whoo boy.
This morning's run was really good. Killer weather abounded today. It was sunny, but very cool and no humidity. I was wearing one of my fancy new sweat wicking shirts, and since I've been dieting the last two weeks, I was feeling sleek and fast. It's been a while since I went for a run, but since we were talking about doing another half-marathon yesterday, I figured I better get a move on. Since the weather was good, I was feeling good, I had the day off and some free time before Scrabble, I got excited. I was anticipating it. And it did not let me down.
I run in intervals. Thanks to instruction from the best trainer ever, I expertly pull off the run/walk combo. It's probably why I don't hate running right now, a year-and-a-half after I first started. My run 9/walk 1 combo this morning was perfect. I made decent time, I felt good, I never dragged, I never faltered, and most importantly I never gave up. My 2.25 miles was awesome (don't laugh, that's pretty good for me right now), and I felt on top of the world. Four minutes from the end, I thought to myself "I can't wait to get back out here and run again." And then I started flashing back.
I thought back to all the miles I've put on that canal trail. All the sweat. All the spit. All the blood. The couple of times I've freaked out when I saw snakes. The multiple "away toilet" situations I've encountered there. I've said "I can't wait to get back out here and run again," but I've far more often said, "WHAT THE EFF AM I DOING THIS IS STUPID I HATE THIS BLURG I'M NEVER RUNNING AGAIN HEY LOOK A TURTLE." In fact, I'm pretty sure the ratio is about 10:1. It took me another minute or so, but I realized that I wanted to come again because this run was going so well. And that's odd. Usually, you hit a point where you want to give up, you want to stop and walk, and you have to talk yourself into pushing on. And when you do, the feeling almost always passes. But on the rare occasion that your run is going perfectly, you feel like a pro and you want to do it over and over again.
Now for the Jesus juke:
Faith is like this. It's easy, for me anyway, to be excited about serving, about leading worship, about running after the Lord when everything is going well. It's easy to show my face at staff meetings when I've got my crap together. It's easy to relax when I've had my worship set ready for a few days and had a great practice and everyone was on time and the sound system doesn't mess up. It's easy to meet with my accountability partners when I haven't done anything stupid lately. Unfortunately, that's almost never the case for me.
Your relationship with Lord parallels with your earthly relationships. At times it's all champagne and kittens and double rainbows, and at other times it is...not...those...things. You have to make a choice. I'm sure you've looked at your spouse at times and said "You're being a real juicebag, but I still love you and I'm pursuing you no matter what." Following Jesus has been easy when I've been doing the stuff, but getting back on the path after falling off for a few weeks is hard. Like in running. You don't want to get out of bed. You don't want to drive to the canal. You want to just take a three mile walk instead of running. And walking is not bad, but that's not what you're there for. Going through the motions, chasing feelings, all that stuff is just walking. At best. That's not what you're there for, and you're missing out on the best God has for you.
It's easy to quote Hebrews 12:1 and make the running reference. It's harder to quote James 1:2-4, because that takes work. Pushing through the blerch takes perseverance. And if there's anything I want, it's to be mature and complete. (Seriously, that verse has layers, man.)
All that to say, self, is that it's way easier to go out and do it every day. Maybe at some point I'll actually learn that.