I started running in the spring of 2010. It’s one of most important things I’ve done for myself in the last three years. Even when I slack off and go a few months without running, I always end up back on the street and wondering why I ever left it.
It seems an odd concept for a theme though, to me, until God began to really flesh it out in my mind.
It started with these verses from 1st Corinthians 9:
24 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. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize
It is rather Ironic since I am often heard to say, truthfully, that I am never going to win any prizes in a race. But the theme Run isn’t about simply running, though the act of running is definitely part of it; 1,000 miles of running to be exact. I’ve had some pretty gentle themes since moving to Georgia, but apparently, gentle, healing time is done, and now, we’re back to work.
Run is about discipline, growth,and training. It’s also about teamwork, sportsmanship and knowing when to sit out and rest. It will involve all the areas of my life, not just the few pre-dawn hours when my feet pound the pavement.
It wasn’t long after the word Run and the first verses came to me, that the next verses came to me as well,
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12)
It took me some time to work out how these two verses could go together for a yearly theme. I can’t explain how I knew they did any other way than that I know they do. It’s an undeniable impression on my heart and mind when they are given. I often just have to wait for all the pieces to fall into place, like tumblers in a lock.
As I had been pondering the word “Run,” four other words also kept impressing themselves on me: stronger, farther, better, wiser. It wasn’t until the second set of verses was given that all the facets showed themselves. I always knew that Run meant more than running. It incorporates all the parts of the second scripture:
Strength: stronger (sorry that last one is not fancier, I just share what I’m told)
These four words will serve as boundaries to narrow my focus from all the many, and often good things that I could Run into this year. If it isn’t something that makes me stronger, wiser or better, or takes me farther than where I am now, it doesn’t fit into the paradigm for the year.
I’d love to share more details but God is still working with me on last year’s theme, Attention. I don’t get all the details today. I have to keep paying attention every day, every week, every month as He unfolds the plan. It’s going to be a demanding year. Sometimes it’s going to hurt and sometimes I’m going to be pounding along wondering why in the world I keep on going. But my good Abba, He gave me two years of running before He made it mandatory so that I could know that the pain is temporary and the results last far longer than the pain, that distance is covered faster in motion than in the mind, that I am made of better and stronger stuff than I give myself credit for (after all, I am hand-crafted by the Almighty) and lastly, that every mile is better when celebrated with others on the journey. It’s going to be such an amazing year.
That I may receive the prize.
Strict training for a crown that lasts.