By: Lisa Littlewood
“Just put one foot in front of the other and you’ll make it to the end,” I told myself at mile 11.
It was my first half marathon and while I had felt surprisingly strong for most of the race, the last couple of miles left my mind taunting me with doubts, “Was all the training enough? Do you really have it in you?”
But then I sensed another voice, God’s Spirit, speaking back; “The God who created you has placed within you the strength finish this race. Things are not always easy but in him ALL things are possible.”
Earlier this year when my younger sister, three months post-partum, challenged me to join her and several other mom friends in training for this race, I found pride kicking in. “If they can do it, so can I,” I decided. I mean, after all, I had always been the distance runner in the family.
What started as a pride thing quickly turned personal. I realized my reasons for committing to the race ran much deeper. As a young mother I was feeling overwhelmed by the day-to-day life of raising two small children. It felt like many of my own goals— professional, physical, emotional and spiritual— had drifted out of sight. So much sat undone: devotional books unread, essays unwritten, extra weight unshed and a house, on most days, unclean. I desired to invest more in ministry, but it all seemed unattainable and overwhelming.
I committed to the race because I wanted to finish something. I wanted a tangible challenge that I could complete—a challenge that when complete would potentially offer encouragement in the other areas of my life.
The author of Hebrews offers a picture of how we are to approach our lives-- a picture of a runner as a matter of fact. “Let us throw off everything that hinders,” the author says, “and the sin that so easily entangles. Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Hebrews is reminding us that whatever it is that is holding us back or wearing us down, it is our responsibility to ‘throw it off’ and fully embrace the race we are running, to throw these insecurities away and embrace God’s intentions for us.
God spoke to me quite a bit during my training. He showed me that where my strength may falter, his never does. He showed me that when I am tired I need to cling to him and he will provide the extra measure of endurance to finish the tasks before me.
Sometimes things get hardest towards the end, like for me at mile 11. We get tired, we lose perspective; we let our emotions take over. It is in these moments that we need to remind ourselves that he who started a good work in us WILL be faithful to complete it (Phil. 1:6).
By the time I got to mile 12 I had a renewed sense of hope and realized I was going to finish. In retrospect it was a good race. I’m thankful for the experience, for the ability, and for a God who provides endurance when we think ours is gone.
Lisa Littlewood is the busy mother of two pre-school age children who loves to run, write and read. Her active pursuits to blend her God-given passions (namely writing and encouraging other women) into her messy mothering days inspire many of her blog entries at www.littlewritermomma.blogspot.com.