Don’t. Stop. Running

When I run, the world moves and I move along with it.

The heart pounds in my head as if my thoughts are running, too. I can hear my heart the clearest when I hit the pavement. I am spent and the feeling, as exhaustive as it is, pulsates life in my blood and cells. I feel my body’s weakness come alive and a sort of stubborn resistance is built. A resistance that mechanically takes over me. And the spent body keeps running on. One foot at the time. All of the sudden, the long race is broken down into hundreds of small steps– staccato, rhythmic, ordinary, predictable, and yet powerfully sustained.

I quit with every step in my mind. And yet, my body keeps going. When I run, I often follow my body. The breaks of my quitting thoughts run alongside my ears, and yet a voice from behind my head accelerates my moving limbs: “Don’t stop….”

I run and my heart comes out– my pent-up grief and pain, failures and insecurities– sweating tears and cries through the pores of my salty skin. After every small or big trial, running helped me move forward. I’d throw my legs and the rest followed. I can’t run looking behind at what I lost. I make the best progress when I look ahead.  I’ve learned to run better and longer in the depths of pain and depression. No one sees me carrying them with me. But I see them. I run them along and hope to scatter a few on each trail…will the neighbors notice them on their concrete, I wonder?

Running may crown the best runners into Olympians, soaring on top of the world. It certainly made Christian runner and Olympian Eric Liddell taste Heaven. God made Mr. Eric fast and when he ran, he said felt God’s pleasure. But for me when I run, I come to the end of myself and then I wait for God to lift me up. God did not make me a fast runner who experiences heavenly pleasures through running. I don’t like running: I like persevering through my weak threshold instead. When I run, I see my weakness. And I often cry. Naked weakness, accumulated over my seasons, stares my shaking limbs and I see myself as a small, broken human in need of help. Running doesn’t magically erase my memories of the passed shame, failures, losses, and regrets. But running has coached me to see the trails I left behind as part of the run that will lead me to victory. Running helps me bring them into my story of salvation in Christ. For when I reach my finish line at the threshold of Heaven, and I fall exhausted in the arms of my beloved Savior, the ran miles and treaded pavements will all be witnesses to my earthly race. The past races will be brought into the final victory, witnesses of my godly transformation from a weak runner into a crowned heavenly witness.

I run not to become a glorified Olympian, but to live as an obedient Christian. And I don’t plan to stop until I’m all the way Home.