When Bill suggested our family run a 10K “Turkey Trot” race together on Thanksgiving morning I was surprised. Our youngest daughter Briana and I have been watching, supporting, and cheerleading Bill, David, and Jennie as they run marathons and do triathlons, but I never imagined nor desired to run even a 5K race.
Then Bill e-mailed Briana and I an official invitation to do the 6.2 mile race with the family and attached a training schedule. I actually caught the vision and an intention followed: “I want to do this with our family! I want to run this race!” But as soon as I thought this I felt afraid to fail and be embarrassed. I’ve never been an athlete. My experience has been try, fail, and give up.
I Asked Jesus to Coach Me
But I took courage and prayed and asked Jesus to be my Coach. This time instead of being a cheerleader I was going to be in the race!
The first week I was to run one mile. I was out of town and it was cold, windy and rainy, but I knew I needed to use the means to train and do what I could — I could bundle up and run one mile with Jesus. I did it and I actually enjoyed it! I continued to train in this way over the next two months. As the runs got longer and I felt like I couldn’t do them, I leaned into Christ and ventured on His strength. When I felt embarrassed because I am a slow runner, I practiced finding my identity and security in Him, not my abilities.
Half way through my training program my knees started causing me so much pain I thought I was going to have to stop. I prayed and grieved. Then I sought counsel and was told to get knee braces. I did and they helped me continue to train!
Still, when I thought about running a full 6.2 miles I couldn’t imagine being able to do that! Instead of focusing on the whole race and being overwhelmed I continued to do what I could do on each of my training runs.
As I ran I practiced a prayer rhythm of breathing in “Thank you” and breathing out “Lord.” Spending hours each week breathing this prayer has proven to be a great training for my soul, even more valuable than running has been for my body. Just as running has increased my hunger for food, so praying “Thank you, Lord” has increased my hunger to delight in Christ alone. It’s become a habit that has a positive influence on how I live and serve each day.
What Was Painful Became Joyful!
On Thanksgiving Day I awoke before 5 am to pay money to run without stopping for an hour and twenty minutes! This is something I would have normally considered punishment and suffering! But today I did it with anticipation and hope that I would be able to enjoy running with Jesus for 6.2 miles — and I did! I even smiled as I ran and prayed my “Thank you, Lord” breath prayer.
As thousands of runners passed me, I kept my focus on running the race Christ created me for, a slow steady pace, one focused on thanking the volunteers and marines and those who stood by the side of the road to cheer their loved ones who were running. I got to share the blessing that Christ was breathing in me.
As I ran and imagined the rest of my family finishing and waiting for me to celebrate, I thought about running the race with Christ in life and looking forward to being welcomed into heaven upon my death.
Don’t Just Try — Train
Is there an area you want to grow into Christlikeness? “Don’t just try — train.” I’ve been doing this in the spiritual life for years and teaching it to others. I have directed my effort using VIM plans (Vision – Intention – Means) and relying on Christ with me and His grace at work in my life to make progress overcoming problems like worry, complaining, greed, and mistrust.
Maybe you’re struggling with a personal or relational problem that you think you can’t overcome. I know how this feels and I also know that if you train with Jesus you can go farther than you think! And enjoy the process too!
If you’re serious about seeking coaching from Jesus to learn how to make real and lasting changes in your life we have a free seminar/article to help you: “How to Become Like Jesus.”