Two years ago I ran my first half marathon. And I won. And I hated every minute of it. After the race my mom asked me how I felt to which I responded, “I will never run a half marathon again.”
This morning alongside crystal clear waters and under the warm California sun, miles and miles of dirt trail padded beneath my feet as I started my training for the Marine Corps half marathon. It was the first time since I was 20 years old that I actually felt like a runner again. Back in my early years of adulthood, running was my life. It is what I stayed in Sacramento for. To run track and field for California State University, Sacramento. I raced almost every other weekend all over Northern California. I lived for it. For the runners high. My freshman season I tore my ACL and meniscus, thus ending my hurdling career. I was told running would never be the same. But after 9 months, my legs found their way back to the track and the trails. Only this time as PFC Howard and an Army ROTC cadet. I loved PT. Rucking, running, sprinting. I thrived. Until my Crossfit career turned into powerlifting. And I stopped running. And my coach said “you will never be a runner again.” Those words haunted me and over the past three years I have ran. A lot. I even ran that half marathon. I have ran Spartan races and 5Ks all over the globe. And won. But I didn’t feel like a runner.
Running takes endurance. It takes stamina. It takes drive and dedication and lots and lots of discipline. It’s a lot like our faith. We have to run the race with endurance (Hebrews 12:1). This week on leave some pretty life altering things happened. A very big one being registering for classes at Seminary. Being accepted was one thing, but signing up, paying tuition, and purchasing my textbooks for Greek 501, Theology 501, and New Testament 501 was kind of a big deal. And a scary one. And I know it is going to be extremely difficult and challenging and require my full dedication. It’s not something that I can do overnight or wait til the last minute for. It’s going to require painstaking amounts of time and energy. It’s going to require endurance. This week I also signed up for the Marine Corps Half Marathon. I haven’t ran further than a 5k in probably a year and a half. I have no patience for running on the ship for more than 20 minutes. I just want to do WODs and lift things and do sprints. Running long distance is hard. It’s taxing. It takes work. It takes mental fortitude. It takes training. But I know I was made to run. As much as I enjoy other things, running has always been where I feel God the most, where I feel the most alive. And although there are other career options in my line of sight, ministry and serving God and country is what I know I was called to do. Anything else would be unfulfilling. In anything worth doing there is going to be difficulty, strife, and obstacles. Anything that is deemed your purpose is going to require ALL of you. All of the time. David didn’t have it easy. Job didn’t have it easy. Paul, Peter, John, Timothy. None of them had it easy. And Jesus. Jesus lived a life of constant pain, challenges, and adversity. But he endured. He had stamina and he had heart. He knew this life is a marathon not a sprint. And his faithfulness and his dedication to his task led to our salvation. So what is our excuse?
My ambition and wild fearlessness has always been one of my biggest strengths. It’s also been one of my biggest flaws. Now is the time for me to dedicate myself to running the race with endurance. To train everyday with intention and purpose.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
It is going to be hard. It is going to be exhausting. But anything worth doing is going to have those consequences. If living for Gods glory means learning to love the aches and pains of life as an ultra marathon, then so be it. Our faith is not meant to be felt in bursts of speed and explosion followed by periods of stagnation. Our faith is meant to endure, to grow, to mature, and to flourish. We were made for the long run. It’s time to take up our cross and hit the trail knowing our pacer will lead us down the right path.