If my plans had worked out, I would be exhausted today, tired from finishing my first Marathon. But I'm not. Due to a small injury and a vicious virus, I was unable to run. It's hard to train for 15 weeks and not accomplish the goal. Yes, I'm disappointed. But no, I'm not devastated. I am (almost) thankful. A more accurate description of me would be forced gratitude as I see God teaching me even in something as seemingly insignificant as running.
When I started training regularly this summer, I saw my discipline and my faith grow immensely. It was as if the physical challenge was helping me grow spiritually - helping me step out in faith and trust. So when I completed my first triathlon, I just switched gears and continued my training with a marathon in mind. The discipline continued. I continued making my training a priority in my life because it was so beneficial to my sanity, my high-energy personality, and my spiritual growth. I was so focused that I failed to realize that it was beginning to replace my time with the Lord. Something that was once helpful, had become harmful because I had made it more important than what it was helping in the first place.
I truly believe that God works in everything. God cares about everything. Even running. I believe that my injury was God showing me where my priorities were. When God told Abraham to go to the land of Canaan, Abraham decided to go to Egypt because there was a famine in Canaan. He wasn't trusting God to take care of him. In Egypt, he ran into all kinds of trouble, including pimping Sarah off to Pharaoh as his sister - not exactly honoring her or God. But God was gracious, and in Genesis 13, Abraham took his family back to Canaan "unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning....unto the place of the altar which he had made there at the first: and there, Abram called upon the name of the Lord." He went back to where he had started, where he had heard the Lord calling him.
It is definitely a bummer that I didn't run 26.2 miles this morning. It would have been a bigger bummer, though, if I had continued complacently in my ways, running down a path I didn't want to be on. Thank God I'm back where I started.
This summer training began as an exercise of my faith - a tangible way for me to step out and practice trusting the Lord. I began to rely on it as the foundation for everything I did. My time with the Lord and my relationship with Him is my foundation. Running is an exercise of the faith I have - challenging myself and pushing my boundaries so that I am always reminded that my strength comes from the Lord. Running for you may be some other challenge or passion or goal. For me, running keeps me on track. It's a daily reminder that my strength comes from the Lord, a daily reminder that I can always do more than I think I can, a daily reminder to leave complacency behind and seek to be pushed and stretched out of my comfort zone. This is meaningless, however, when my foundation is not firm in Christ.
I see my set-back as a beautiful opportunity to train harder, stronger, and better - to remember that everything I do must be founded in the Lord. Everything. Even something as simple as putting one foot in front of the other, over and over and over again.