Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Running Tip Tuesday {July Edition}

I am going to guess that even if you are not a runner, you can identify with some part of this post.

So we have to start with a story: I run quite a bit (maybe 6 days a week).  And I don't run just for fun.  I time my runs.  I measure my runs.  I do math in my brain while I am running about how far I have run and how my mile (1600 meters) splits are.
A few weeks ago, I realized that some of my runs were a bit sluggish - not a big deal.  I am all about letting my body run slow if it wants to.  But then it was becoming that all of my runs were slower than they should be (for the sake of this post, let's not delve into "slower" and "should be"... roll with me folks).  I was getting really frustrated with myself.  I was starting to feel shame about how slow some of my runs were.

And then I went running and had a spiritual crisis (kinda, I can be dramatic).

This is what I realized.

Running at a certain pace (9 minute miles on recovery days) had become an idol in my life.

Auto-kay (in case you don't live in Korea that translates as "What to do?")

Do you know Pete Wilson?  He is a pastor in America and he wrote a book about idolatry.  He views an idol as anything we seek to get something from that we should only get from God.  (I don't know if those are his exact words, but it is his overall idea).

So working with this definition of an idol, I asked myself what I was seeking from running (9 minute miles on easy days) that I should be getting from God.  Let's fast-forward through the superficial stuff and get to the point: acceptance.  I wanted running to tell me that I am good enough.  I wanted to try hard and get rewarded because of my efforts.  I wanted to place my identity in running.  I wanted running to tell me who I am.

But that is not the Gospel!  So let's remind ourselves what the Gospel is: God saves (saving) sinners.  I do not try hard enough and eventually save myself.  There is nothing for me to show God that would be good enough to save me.  What I have done (sinned) has made me enemies with God.  My good works (my trying hard) are like filthy rags.  I am not good enough.

Thanks be to God, who delivers us through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:25)

God has provided a way!  Yay!  When I trust Jesus to be my Savior, I get a new identity.  My identity is found in Christ.

How does this relate back to me and my running?
I redeem lies with truth:

  • Out of the heart the mouth speaks, that means the Words of God comes from His Heart.
    • He says that I am I am good enough.  Not because of anything I can or can not do.  But because of what He has done for me.  I am enough.  I am accepted and not condemned.
  • God is passionate about his glory.  I want running to bring God glory.  There is no reason for running to bring me shame, regardless of my pace.
  • I am saved by grace through faith; and that not of myself, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
  • Psalm 115:8 says that those who make idols will be like them and so will all who trust in them. I would much rather trust in God and be conformed to his likeness.  (I think the end of Romans 1 also goes along with this idea.)
I do believe that my theology applies to my everyday life.  It is important for me to step back and examine the thoughts/beliefs that motivate my actions.  What else in my life is an idol (anything we seek to get something from that we should only get from God)?  How can the gospel redeem me?

So to end my story: I am still running sluggish some days.  On those days I preach the Gospel to myself while I run.  I end my runs thankful for God's goodness and faithfulness, instead of berating myself for my slowness.  God is love.  He is not going to run out.  I am confident that He is well stocked in grace, patience, and compassion as well.

So, what idols are in your heart?  (that is rhetorical)

p.s.  Thank you, Ian, for listening to my 28354235 minutes of whining and complaining working through this.

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