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.
Hebrews 12:1I didn't know.
Now I do.
For years, I've been a solitary runner. Lace up the shoes, crank up the iPod, hit the road. I would often have the jogging stroller as the bow of my running ship, the kids laden with sippy cups and books to keep them occupied for a bit. And sometimes I would have a couple of the kids alongside me on their bikes, weaving around me, making a moving obstacle course.
But for the most part, I run alone.
I was always concerned that I would slow someone down or they would slow me down or my knee would gimp up and I would hobble them.
And it was my alone time, my time to think, to get away, to reflect.
And I could do this thing alone, play the mental games that would keep me going on the long runs.
But now I know.
As my precious neighbor and friend JT and I have been training together for an upcoming half-marathon, a startling discovery has emerged for me.
It is easier to run the long distances with her.
Easier than doing it by myself.
When I ran track in high school, I didn't like running with my team mates. It was always competitive, chasing, racing, sometimes setting the pace, often being left in the dust. It was difficult to enjoy the run, not much time to take in the scenery, to stay in the moment.
What a difference this training has made.
JT and I are running for the same goal. We're running a half marathon in support of international adoption, a cause we hold dear in our hearts. We're not out to try to 'beat' each other~~we want to finish the course and enjoy the run. We are there to support each other, to hold each other accountable, to distract each other when the road gets long, to counsel and talk and listen and laugh.
And it's made it possible to run further and faster.
There are miles of our spiritual races where we are meant to run alone with the Lord, to let His whispers be the cadence of our internal iPods. Those times are sweet and powerful.
But we were also created to run alongside our fellow spiritual siblings, to experience the encouragement of fellowship and to benefit from that shared energy of a heart purpose and a vision of the finish line.
Why we sometimes make our spiritual cross country a competitive event is beyond me. The hurts that come from the pettiness within the fellowship can scare us off of wanting to share the road again.
But the spiritual race route was not meant to be a competition but a journey. A journey we make within the borders of our individual hearts while we encourage and support and talk and listen to those running alongside us.
And the miles of this life roll beneath our feet.
And our pace is shared.
And in the run we find joy.
We were made to operate in a fellowship of fellow runners.
And to persevere.