The air was a little bit chilly last Sunday morning as I stepped out of my front door, running shoes on and hair pulled into a messy ponytail. I did a couple of jumping jacks and then started off down my street….or I should say up my street since my house is at the bottom of a hill. I did my two-mile jog in the early morning before church, before my brain could finish waking up and realize what I was doing. The neighborhood was still quiet and the sky still overcast as I labored along with my slow steps and struggling breaths.
I’m not used to being out of shape. I’m not used to running up and down steep hills. I hate that burning feeling in my legs as I force them to keep moving. I hate that heaviness in my chest as my lungs push for more oxygen.
I wanted to quit, but I didn’t.
I ran exactly 2.02 miles that day in exactly eighteen minutes and fourteen seconds. Terrible time compared to my previous high school running records, but I ran the whole thing and I didn’t stop and I didn’t die.
I can’t help but compare my life to my run last weekend.
Right now I feel like I’m just pushing to get up the hill. Everything is hard. Our finances are hard. Finding a new church is hard. Living in a big city where you don’t really know anyone is hard. Finding a store you can buy cat food from is hard. Learning a new job is hard. Being away from our family and friends that we hold so dear is hard.
This week, I’ve wanted to quit. My heart ached all day yesterday as I thought about all I had lost. Eating lunch with my parents every Thursday. My big house with the pretty pond outside. Leading worship at the best church in. the. world. Hanging out with our friends. Knowing how to get to where I need to go without looking it up on GPS. My work buddies and our silly conversations. Knowing how to do my job and knowing that I was good at it. Walking into Wal-Mart and seeing familiar faces every day. I never actually cried, but I could feel the weight of it all and my body is just so tired.
I know it’s too soon. We’ve only lived here for just over a month. It will take longer than that for us to start feeling settled…..for this strange new place to feel like home. What is it? Six months, they say before you feel settled? Yesterday, six months felt like a long way away…..just like two miles felt like a long way to run on Sunday.
Today, God has given me strength and peace in the midst of this uphill journey. It has been an anointed day, and it isn’t even lunch time yet. And oh, how thankful I am for His patience and care for me! He really is a good God, you know?
First, I ran across this Scripture in one of my e-mail devotions I receive:
“Lift up your tired hands, then, and strengthen your trembling knees! Keep walking on straight paths… Guard against turning back from the grace of God….” Hebrews 12:12-13, 15 (TEV)
Then I came across this blog post which talks about making Jesus your top priority:
“It was there, in His redemptive grace and His increasing glory, that I realized my greatest plea is that Jesus, above any writing project or to-do list or work task, wouldn’t be my afterthought.” –Katy, When Jesus is my Afterthought
Finally, I saw this post on my Twitter feed which talks about moving and why we have to trust God:
“I knew that God saw the big picture and had a plan. He knew the people that I needed to be near to help and those who needed to be close to me to help me. He hadn’t chosen these assignments with a random selection program. He had thought about it and strategically placed us each time.” –Katie, Seating Chart
Your lungs may be heavy and your legs burning from trying to get up that hill. You may want to quit and just go back to where you came from…..to what is familiar and comfortable. But the refining of our souls does not result from comfortable places. Our hearts are put in shape by our Father, who leads us through these hard training sessions with love and patience. He’s not doing it out of cruelty, He’s doing it because He loves us and He has something better for us at the finish line.
So keep pushing through. Keep forcing those feet forward. Dig deep into the Word and find comfort in His promises. Keep holding onto your Daddy and asking Him for strength and comfort. He’s running the race, right there with us.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” ~Hebrews 12:1-3