I became a runner (and I use the term lightly) as a means to exercise, but found out that it was the perfect way to clear my ever busy mind, meditate and pray. It has become something I enjoy, the clearing my mind and praying part, not so much the sweating, gasping for breath part. But during that night run, I really questioned myself, "now why I am doing this?" I began to doubt and to focus on the darkness and the distractions. My mind was anything but clear, and I struggled to focus in prayer. About 45 minutes into the darkness of the night run, I saw a bright light in the distance. It was signaling my finish line where I would pass off to the next runner who just happened to be my daughter. I was equally happy to see the finish line as I was her cheering me forward. But in my distracted mind and in the darkness, I stumbled and fell, 50 feet from the finish, not even sure of what I had stumbled on. I fell hard. I caught myself with the full force of my fall on my hands, and reopened a bad gash I had in my left hand from an accident the previous night. I jumped right back up, with blood streaming from that hand, crossed the finish and passed the slap band off to my daughter. Not exactly the night time run I had envisioned.
And yet...it gave me much to think about.
One of my favorite Bible verses is Hebrews 12: 1-2, in which the Christian journey is compared to running a race. In these verses we are admonished to:
'lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us and let us run with endurance the race that is before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus...'
Yet I believe there are many Christians who metaphorically speaking run this spiritual race in the dark, not fixing our eyes on our light, our Savior Jesus Christ.
If we are really honest with ourselves, we all wrestle from time to time with running the spiritual race. We pick up too many encumbrances of daily life which weigh us down and we fall prey to sin (in particular the sins of self) which so easily ensnare us. But it seems to me, there is an epidemic of Christians who live defeated lives 24/7. Sadly, the world and it's ruler, Satan are winning the race.
I have talked with several women who epitomize this. They live in defeat and doubt and unhappiness. They are distracted by the busyness and loudness of this world. And yet when asked, they admit they do not read the word of God, they are not active, contributing members to a local body of Christ, and they struggle in prayer. They are trying to run the race IN THE DARK, without the light that the word of God gives us and the edification that comes from being in fellowship with other believers. Why would any Christian in their right mind try to run the Christian race in the DARK?? We CAN'T run the race effectively or victoriously in the absence of light.
Not long after my night run, the sun began to peak over the mountain and my daughter snapped this picture. The road that had been in the dark was now illuminated so the path was clear, as well as any pitfalls along the path. As I looked at it later, it reminded me of Psalms 119:105
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
And just this morning I read a verse that took on new meaning to me, Proverbs 5: 18-19
The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn that shines brighter and brighter until the full day. The way of the lost is like darkness. They do not know over what they stumble.
I was running in the dark. I did not know over what I stumbled, until I went back and looked. It was the base of one of those orange cones, that had somehow come apart from it's top part. It wasn't possible for me to see it in the dark, but I could have seen it in the light of day.
If we are going to live a victorious Christian life and run the race with endurance it will only be because He is lighting our way. This only happens through reading, treasuring and meditating on the word of God. To not do this, means you are running in the dark, and you will stumble, you will fall and you will only be hurting yourself.
I pray that if you aren't already, you will make regular reading, studying, and meditating upon God's word a part of your life, so that you can be victorious in running the race with endurance!
Here's to running the race, in the light of day and in the LIGHT of His word!