1 Corinthians 9:24-27 – Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
So last weekend I did a thing.
I ran a 5k with my son.
Now please understand me here, I have never run a day in my life.
I am not athletically inclined.
I am a fat man in my late 40s.
I use the term “run” when I say to my wife, “I am going to run to the store for cookies” or “I need to run out and get more ice cream.”
A few weeks ago a sign went up in my town. It was advertising a 5k being put on by our little local fitness center (www.chesfitclub.com). I drove by the sign several times a week and finally asked my wife one day if she would like to run the 5k with me.
She gave me a look that can only be described as disbelief combined with humor combined with utter shock. I think she also wanted to smack some sense into me.
And she told me no.
She doesn’t run. She is so amazingly fit and works out in other ways at a different gym, but she doesn’t run. And she knew that I don’t run either.
So I dropped the idea for a few minutes and then said, I wonder if my son or daughter would like to run with me.
Again, the look of disbelief.
I called my daughter and got the same reaction as my wife. My son, on the other hand, said yes.
I started the plan to run a 5k.
Now I walk 4 miles a day average. I figured that would translate well into running a 5k. I’d actually be running less distance than I walk usually, so I should be good.
So I started my training.
Isaiah 40:31 – But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
I put the dog’s collar on her and walked out the door. We took about 200 steps before we stopped to sniff some grass (the dog, not me). We walked another 300 steps and stopped to pee (again, dog, not me). A little while later we stopped to talk to someone else who was walking. Even later still we stopped to poop (again, dog not me). We would stop and start a lot on our 2.5 mile walk that day.
A few weeks of my “training regimen” and I was set.
The big day arrived. I couldn’t sleep the night before so I only got about 3-4 hours of sleep. I woke up and wasn’t hungry so I didn’t eat anything. My son and I walked over to the area where the race would start. It was a nice warm up walk of about 1.25 miles.
Then we checked in and got ready to race. I couldn’t figure out how to put my number on me, but eventually got that figured out. They gave away these goodie bags in the beginning to everyone. When they went to make announcements I was the only person who had a bright green goodie bag on my back. I looked at my son and asked him to go hide it for me since I don’t want to look like a complete noob.
After the announcements we took our marks and the race started.
I got off to an amazing start! Out of the 150 or so participants I was in the front 30 for the first probably 50 steps.
Then I started falling behind.
By the end of the first half mile I was walking.
Then I saw people standing up ahead of me and a photographer so I mustered all my energy and started running…until I was past the photographer.
Then I went back to walking.
I saw a few more people and started running again.
This occurred all the way throughout the race.
2 Timothy 4:7 – I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
In the end, I ran the 5k in 41 minutes and came in 63rd place out of about 150.
Since I didn’t train, it was strictly my own determination that got me through that race.
Oh, a side note here, my son got 3rd!
But, what would have happened if I had actually trained?
For never running a day in my life and going strictly off my own power, I got 63rd. If I had actually trained I might have made it in the top 30 or 40. If I would have used a trainer or even wisdom from people who have done this in the past then I might have been better and possibly even feel better afterward.
Just so you all know, it is a couple days after and I am still limping like both of my ankles are broken. I even did all the right things after the race: I immediately laid down on the ground, after I was done laying down I went and got a snowball with extra marshmallow, and I didn’t eat anything else for a few hours afterward. (please note, that last sentence was meant to be sarcastic, but unfortunately every statement in there is true)
1 Timothy 4:8 – For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
Training is a very important piece of this life. As a Christian, I find that this entire life is training for the next.
Especially in my Christian walk, if I don’t train myself to read the Bible or to pray regularly then I can fake it for a little while, but in the end I will be even more hurt than if I had trained properly.
Falling in love with God, or anyone for that matter, is all about training yourself to do it. Training is the key to success.
As an elder in my church, I can’t even tell you how many people come to Christ on Sundays who quit their walk with Christ a few short months later because it is too hard.
If you were to ask me to go out and start running the day after my 5k last weekend, I would have told you it was too hard and I wasn’t going to do it. The same happens with Christianity. The person is reading and praying and studying and communing with other Christians and life is getting better, but then something happens like their work schedule changes or sports season starts and now they don’t have time to train. They don’t have time to read their Bible or pray to God. They cancel appointments with other Christians and miss Bible studies and home groups because those are lower on the needs list. Who needs God now when He will always be there, right?
Just like with anything, you can fake it for a little while on your own but you will never reach the level you could unless you train properly.
This goes for 5k races and the Christian walk.
God has a purpose for you and it all revolves around training.
Who knows, maybe by this time 6 months from now I will tell you that I ran another 5k and placed better. I do know that I want to start training so that I can improve my results and feel better afterward.
But in the meantime, I will keep training on my Bible reading, prayer life, and Christian walk. That is the most important training anyone can do anyway.
Hebrews 12:11-13 – For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.