(Laura Simon) [Order this photo]
I did not realize how one verse in the Bible could come to have such an effect on me. For me, this verse has changed my focus and purpose. If you believe in God, the creator of all, then you come to believe that He created you for a purpose. Eric Liddell, missionary to China and gold medalist in the 1924 Olympics said this about God's purpose for believers, "Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you. If with all your hearts, you truly seek me, you shall ever surely find me. If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, then that is how you run a straight race."
I have been running in a race all my life, but with the wrong focus. God took my passion for running and helped me strip the weight that was slowing me down and gave me the opportunity to join Him in running with endurance the race He set before me.
Running became a passion for me again in 2008. I had been running off and on since the late '70s. In 2009 I decided to pursue a goal of running and completing a marathon. I always wanted to train for a marathon, but never really committed to the disciplined training required to attempt this 26.2 mile run. The time was right and I was at a cross road in my life and needed something to refocus on to get me moving in a positive direction.
Running a marathon is not easy. Training for a marathon requires commitment of soul. It requires faith to persevere and endurance to complete the race. My trainers told me it would not be easy and I would have to start over and find strength inside that I had not yet found. Starting over was hard, but I put faith in my trainers and began to believe in something I could not see yet.
"Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about the things we cannot see." Hebrews 11:1.
Human reasoning sometimes can be an enemy in the way we pursue our goals. Faith is not something we can see. Faith can only point us in a direction. I was 52 years old, had not been running consistently for 10 years, was not in the best shape and was trying to convince myself to do the unthinkable, run a marathon in October 2009. But I heard it said once that an extraordinary God can do the extraordinary through an ordinary person. I asked God to open a door and I would run in the direction He was pointing to. The door opened March of 2009 and I began the process of training, going from a mile run to running 26.2 miles.
When a defeat comes into your life, it is time to dig deep inside and find the reason why. Defeat had come. Three quarters into my training I acquired a stress fracture in my left tibia. Rest for six weeks would be required for healing. I did not take the advice of my doctor and continued my training. Never continue to run on a stress fracture. Six weeks of rest would have had me back on the road in time to run. Now I had to withdraw from the 2009 Portland Marathon. I would have to wait another year to run in the marathon I chose to be my first.
Defeat would teach me a lesson: trust and in whom. Weakness leads us to others to strengthen us. When we become stronger we replace our trust in others and let pride put that trust back in our own reasoning. I was guilty. I thought I knew better. God wants to use adversity in our lives to draw us into a closer relationship with Him. God reminded me of a verse: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5.
Valuable lesson learned. Trust the trainer and lean not on your own pride. In October 2010, I entered the race and 3 hours and 41 minutes later, I completed my first marathon. Words cannot explain the feeling as I crossed the finish line. The only thing I remember is looking up towards the heavens and saying, "I did it!" I knew God was not finished with me yet and I felt He wanted me to continue to run for Him. Up to this point I was running for my glory. Now God was calling me to run to honor Him, to Run For God.
Running as a passion can easily become an idol, I felt God reminding me of this and leading me in a direction to help others grow physically, mentally and spiritually through running.
Looking for a Christian running study program I stumbled upon "Run For God: The 5K Challenge. A practical guide to running and a 12-week training plan with a Christian focus," by Mitch Hollis. God put someone in Mitch's life to get his attention. God put Run For God in front of me to get my attention and set me straight. I do not claim to be personal trainer, Bible scholar, and preacher or have an formal training in athletics. But I love to run, love the Lord and I wanted to do more. I wanted to help others see how an endurance sport like running parallels faith. As I trained for my marathon with God, I became better physically, mentally and spiritually. I wanted to help others realize the potential they had and believe, "yes, you can" and in 12 weeks go from walking to running a 5k.
"You created the deepest parts of my being. You put me together inside my mother's body. How you made me is amazing and wonderful. I praise you for that. What you have done is wonderful. I know that very well." Psalm 139:13-14.
I trained and ran a marathon to prove to myself how wonderful and amazing I could be. But God already knew. He reminded me of this in these verses. God has planted a seed in each one of His children of the extraordinary. Run For God helps us see us for who we really are and how we can do an extraordinary thing and gain a new level of spiritual confidence. God wants to do great things through us. Others might not see them as great. But God has put us in life's race. He wants us to take part in it. It is going to be tough. It is going to require faith, determination, concentration and energy of soul. Run For God is only a tool. All Run For God can do is show you a way in facing life's realities. God has given us the freedom to run our own race, make our own choices and go our own way. Run For God can point you towards something more permanent. What prize do I choose, medals and trophies that will disappear, or something that will last forever. I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. no, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved , but I focus on this one thing; Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:12-14
God loves me and desires a personal relationship with me. But I have to choose. I cannot understand with my human reasoning. God wants me to find Him with spiritual reasoning. That is where faith will lead me. It takes my heart, not my mind to find God. That is how we are amazingly and wonderfully made. You can find out more about Run For God at www.runforgod.com.