Over the last several years I've written a lot about my running journey. Much of what I've written points to the idea that running has drawn me closer to God. Several people have come right out and asked me and I'm sure even more have wondered: how on earth can running be a spiritual experience.
It's a fair question. Just a few short years ago I would have called mixing God and running as logical as mixing gasoline and a forest fire. Some things just don't naturally fit together. But that was before I actually became a runner. It was before I started noticing that countless scriptures in the bible drive home spiritual messages with running metaphors.
For the last several weeks I've been listening to a series of sermons in church teaching on 2 Timothy chapter 4. This is the final letter the apostle Paul ever wrote - quite possibly the parting words he wanted to be most remembered by. It's a letter filled with those running metaphors I referenced above. As part of the teaching on that letter last week the pastor made the point that a dead battery can't recharge itself from within. It is dependent on an external source of energy to become recharged.
I think that analogy helped me understand clearer than ever how my running journey is connected to my relationship with God. No matter how hard I train, no matter how well I eat, no matter how perfect the running conditions are, I always reach a point in my run when I wonder how much further I can go. All the energy I've managed to store up in my own physical being eventually runs out and I'm forced to turn to an external source of power.
Here's where it gets tricky. When the running gets hard, and I dare say when life gets hard, we all want to be able to turn to a source of power we trust to pull us through. Trust is the key isn't it? Because it's our complete faith in the source that actually unleashes it's power.
I suppose I have an advantage in discovering my one true source of power. I spent a large portion of my life experimenting with false sources that eventually proved to be useless, if not destructive.
Then one day I started leaning on God. It's obviously a much longer story than that, but the only part of the story that really matters here is I now know my source of power. And I only have one, always present, never adapting source. When my battery is running low I know where to get it recharged every time. Whether I'm talking to Him or focusing on his presence, I'm more prepared than ever to run through, around and over fatigue. There's an efficiency that happens in life when you start ruling out the things that don't recharge your battery, that don't help you find healthy ways to conquer life and running fatigue.
The beauty with God is he's a one stop battery charging station. Whether my being a dad battery is running low or my ability to get along with a co-worker is fading fast or my country's views on politics are draining my every last bit of tolerance - and even when I'm at mile 20 of a marathon wondering where on earth one more single stride can possibly come from - God is always there, arms and hands lovingly and patiently extended - holding jumper cables.
I get that my true power source might not be yours. I get that your running journey might not be a spiritual one. But if you ever find the power sources you lean on are fading or fickle, they no longer point you in a better and more refreshed direction, I'd love to tell you more about mine. You might find yourself running further and faster than you ever dreamed of.
Life is like running.