Today was another day of training for my new running regiment. As I ran I was struck by the fact that, well, I was actually running. In all of my young 35 years I have told myself continually that I am NOT a runner. I will NEVER be a runner. I can NOT and NEVER will do a marathon.
My words were laced with such adamant feelings and beliefs on the subject and my actions followed suit. Then it happened… I decided one day I was tired of my blatant opposition to the concept of running and I decided I would run a marathon.
Now, you must understand that I have tried running many times. In fact every time I ran, I expected that I’d be able to just go out and run a mile with no problem at all. Of course I could run a mile! Then I’d run for about 25 yards and quickly realize, “running is not my thing.” So when I decided I to run a marathon I knew that a process was about to commence. I needed to do this slowly, steadily and I needed to not do it alone. So I invited a friend to run with me. And the training began.
This all took place in November of this year.
When I started running, 30 seconds felt like death! I mean to say I was, out of breath, sweaty, and I completely knew I could not go any further. But I kept pushing. Because somewhere deep inside of me, I knew I could get there. My vernacular changed and my once common usage of the word CAN’T, turned into a WILL. (notice it was not a can… but a will)
Today I went out for my short run. On this particular day a short run includes a 50 minute jog, where I run for 4 minutes at a time and walk for 1 minute in between each set. I didn’t even run out of breath. My body wasn’t sore and never did I utter the words, “I can’t go on!” (although if I’m honest I did utter, I hate this! and can’t the sun not be so sunny. and why do so many people stop and take pictures in SAn Diego! however)
This past weekend I accomplished a 12 mile run, while I was in the Seattle area on a speaking engagement. Needless to say I was excited! And continue to be. In reality, November was not that long ago, but it has not felt like an easy journey. It has been long. It has involved a change in belief and action. It has involved a deep commitment to a process.
I think a lot of life is like training for such an event. I know the marathon will come and go, and yes I am overly excited that I will accomplish this feat. But the process has changed me. It is like the invitation to faith. I know that often I think of faith in terms of instantaneous change. The kind of change that comes in a moment decision. My life was turned around in an instant! All became new.
When Jesus met with his friends just days before he was to be crucified he gave them some valuable insights and invitations. One such invitation, dare I say plea is found in John 15. Jesus says… “I am the vine and you are the branches, remain in me and you will bare much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
I continue to learn about the analogy of fruit that is often used in scripture. Fruit is not instantaneous. In fact, fruit comes slowly and steadily. It comes with work. It comes with feeding and it comes with help. Fruit does not often grow alone. Fruit is a pretty good analogy (thanks Jesus) But I think all too often we believe the fruit that should come from our lives or the lives of others comes in grocery store form. You just go pick it up. you don’t have to work for it, you don’t have to be disciplined, or committed, you simply show up, find what you want and go. Then we take that fruit, staple it on the tree of our life and wonder why when life hits hard that our fruit falls off, or it rots, or it simply doesn’t work as we’d like.
Like training for my marathon, fruit and faith are a process. A process that takes time, consistency, effort and remaining planted in soil that is good. I continue to learn by the process of training. I continue to be amazed by the work of God as I press on. I know that as I continue to train and look into the 16, 18 and 20 mile runs ahead, that I may believe it is impossible. Which right now it is, but with time effort and the work of God changing my insides, I will be able to accomplish the goal set before me.
Maybe Paul was on to something with the whole press on towards the goal, to win the prize thing? Maybe Jesus really meant what He said when He invited us to plant ourselves in HIM so that we could bare fruit. Maybe there is something to the idea of grace as we and others grow in faith and BECOME.
My thoughts are rambly and long today. It must be the endorphins?!
Abide. Remain and watch! Fruit is coming