Tomorrow I run my first half-marathon. I'm nervous as hell. It's an authority thing.
This may be shocking, but I have a problem with authority. I don't like to be told what to do. More precisely, I don't like to be told what to do by people I have no respect for. God has continued over the past 5 years to place people in my life who are deserving of my respect, so my discipline has been to submit to their authority. Now I totally understand that the term "submit" isn't terribly popular among progressive Christians, yet this is my lesson. Don't get me wrong, my distrust of people in positions of authority has served me at times, but more often than not, it has pretty well bitten me in the ass.
Here's why this is related to running: I hired (submitted to) a coach to develop a race plan for me. For 3 months I have followed the plan to the letter, which has been an act of trust. Even when I didn't want to run 10 miles at 5:30 in the morning, even when the speed drills seemed silly....I followed the plan. So tomorrow is race day and I have to keep telling myself "trust your coach, trust your training". Bobby (coach) thinks I can run this race much faster than I can. I'm a comfort runner, meaning that I tend to hold back rather than push myself.
In a lot of the triathlons I've done, I have mentally doomed myself before the race even started, or soon into it. Twice I've gotten sick right before a triathlon. Once I pulled a muscle in my neck carrying my bike from my car to the transition area. These physical problems are mental and spiritual in nature. Bobby is really into the mental and spiritual aspect of running. So I see training now as one of my spiritual disciplines. The physical training is nothing compared to the mental training. I have been trying to train my mind to shut the hell up. I'm so cerebral that my mind thinks it's in charge. That's why it has sabotaged the body in the past, to show her who's the boss.
Another way in which running is a spiritual discipline is that, prior to getting involved in triathlon and now distance running, I only pursued things in life that I was naturally gifted at. I have several things in my life that come easily to me, but not to most people. So I took up triathlon...and let me tell you, I suck at it. Seriously, I am a lousy triathlete. Last year I came in 93 out of 98, but, as I like to say, I beat everyone who sat on their ass that morning. Same with running. I will never be "good". I'm 6 foot 1 and 163 pounds, not exactly the ideal runner's build. SO I tirelessly pursuit something I will never be good at, which ends up being the point. I simply enjoy my improvements, which I have much more opportunity to see than those who are naturally good at the sport. There is a greater distance from shitty to ok than from good to great.
This dynamic is present in other aspects of my life as well. I don't trust God when I'm told I can run faster. I only like to stick to things in ministry that I'm good at. I don't trust my training and I think I'm too weak to run the race God has put before me. It's a crisis of authority. Do I trust God enough to make myself uncomfortable, or am I a comfort Christian?
Tomorrow I want to run the good race as Paul says. I want to let go of myself and give glory to God in my success, that way, I run with less fear of personal failure, because I've already won.
Let us run with perseverance
the race marked out for us.