Christ. Children. Constructivism.

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Lesson Learned in my Tennis Shoes

“Hi Tennis Shoes! It has been a while.” I was inspired by my youngest child to take up running (or in my case, jogging) last summer.  A long time ago, in an era I could refer to as B.C. (before children), I was an active, sweat-loving, aerobic-craving athlete.  That characterization abandoned me when the word “placenta” entered my vocabulary.  Now after almost two decades, I felt ready to dust off my tennis shoes and once again return to some-version of my former self. There is definitely something to that euphoric feeling and a runner’s high every time you hit the pavement and your tennis shoes find their destiny.
You might call my running a “fascination”.  But my youngest, Meredith, age 16, has taken up running with a “passion.”  She just completed her first Half-Marathon last month.  Standing at the finish line, cheering her on, I thought…She has fought for this. She preserved. She finished the race. She received two medals – one for being a “finisher” and one for “2nd place” (20 years and younger category), along with her friend,  who came in 1st by a few seconds. 
There is a big difference between her and me. None of my casual, jogging-on-the-weekends stuff. Meredith, who began running last spring in track at her high school, hasn’t stopped running.  She trains 6 days out of 7 days meaning that her routines often involve time in the weight room, an abdominal workout, and running 4, 6, 8, or 10 miles per day – depending on her selected routine.  She loves Nike, and Lulu, and smoothies with kale.   She is “all in!”
Celebrating over lunch, after her big race, along with friends, family and fans, we discussed the reason why the Christian Life is often compared to a race.  Holy Scripture refers to the concept of a running, racing, prize-receiving over a dozen times. Why is this? What is the connection? What are the life lessons actually learned in your tennis shoes?
To best answer this I must refer to an awesome sermon preached by Executive Pastor Bart Scharer from Substance Church after he had finished the Iron Man Race. (You can enjoy the unabridged version by visiting https://vimeo.com/148660445or www.substancechurch.com). Here are the lessons that he learned in his tennis shoes. The points are his – the commentaries and takeaways are mine.  These are truths for running an earthly race as well as an eternal one.
Enjoy the race.  After months of training, the race itself actually goes by fast. So enjoy it.  Look around.  Smell the air.  Breathe in the atmosphere. Enjoy yourself! Philippians 2:16 Holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.
Run your race.  This speaks to the individualism in the pacing and approach.  You must customize this race.  Choose your own gear. Set your timing. Stick with your game plan.  Don’t be thrown off by those around you doing something different.  Stick to your training plan. 2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;
Just keep moving.  The only way to get through this is just keeping your feet moving. Can’t run? Trying skipping. Or Walking.  Whatever you need to do – just keep moving. Galatians 5:7 You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?
Look for your family and fans.  At checkpoints, it is not uncommon to see signs and hear the cheers.  Look for them along the way.  They are your supporters.  They are your cheerleaders.  Look for them and rely on them for that boost of energy as things get hard! Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin, which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
Be intentional about what you think about.  Your thought life is critical during the race.  This is often the difference between finishing strong and petering out.  Your thoughts.  Losing yourself in positive scenarios, good music, and uplifting self-talk is a difference maker. Galatians 2:2 It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel, which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.
Practice daily disciplines.  You just don’t wake up and run an Iron Man or a marathon or even a 5K for that matter.  You have to do the little things right. Everyday matters as the little choices add up to the big ones. This is probably the hardest part of the race – the most simple, obscure, mundane work.  Away from the crowds, it is what you do with your private time that really counts.
I Timonthy 4:8  Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and the life to come.
Get a coach – trust your trainer.  Everyone needs an example, a role model, a mentor.  You need to find someone who can set up a plan and help you stick to it.  They hold your feet down during the sit-ups.  They get in your face and tell you “one more – you can do this!”  They are the ones who let you know “there’s more in you! Keep going!”  Hebrews 12:2 Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Look for the miraculous.  Miracles happen everyday.  There are moments when you don’t know how you even did what you did- but you know it was a “God-thing!”  He actually is alive, active and available.  He loves to be involved in miracles as the race is happening.  Look for them.  Only the seekers find them. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim;
Take one step today.  Everyone can start with one step – just move in the right direction.  If you sit on the couch, get up and take a walk around your house.  If you walk – try weights. If you jog – speed up. If you run – find a race in which to compete!  Challenge your self to take one positive step today toward your goal. Philippians 3:14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Together, as friends, let’s put on our tennis shoes and do this exercise-thing together.  Seriously, we are going to have a HIH bike/run/walk in October 2016 – so stay tuned on our training schedule.  Let’s do this thing called life together and run “the race” set before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, and our feet moving towards heaven.
Fitting song for this blog – Click here to enjoy a new release from Sara Groves “On Your Mark”with the original dance choreography by my daughter, Madeline Thompson for her spring dance showcase. 

IMG_1189.MOV
Thought I could live without it
Said I just didn’t want to
Thought I could walk away
That wasn’t true
Days they turn into lifetimes
Water it drips on a rock
What could be stronger in time
Than fears and thoughts
On your mark set go
On your mark set go
You can go far in denial
Fall right asleep on that train
Wake up and you don’t recognize a thing
Days they turn into lifetimes
Water it drips on a rock
What could be stronger in time
Than our fears and our thoughts
On your mark set go
On your mark set go
Tomorrow never really comes now does it
It’s always sailing up ahead
The SS Good Intention full of everything you said
You ever wanted,
Wanted
On your mark set go
On your mark set go


“On Your Mark” by Sara Groves, Album: Floodplan

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