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Run for Your Life

Have you ever experienced a moment of literally running for your life?

Well, I have! Let me tell you…it is a terrifying experience to say the least, but mine just so happens to be extremely funny. Just read this short recap of the events. (Grab a box of Kleenex because tears of laughter are soon to follow.)

When I was six or seven, my brother, two of our friends, and I were swinging on the swings at a park down the street from the house we were staying at. All of the sudden out of nowhere, a large bird walks around the corner along the street in front of the swings. I cannot emphasize enough that it was a BIG bird. We had never seen anything like it before.

The boys get the brilliant idea to pile four children on top of a tiny metal slide. As we watched this giant bird walk away from the park, the boys once again had the brilliant idea to make a run for the house. Oh yeah! Did I mention that I am the youngest in this band of friends? So, take a wild guess who was the caboose of this mad dash for the house!

It was me! Next thing I know this giant bird is chasing us, and it can run really fast. Before I knew it, I was quite literally running for my life!

As funny and random as this story may seem, it truly was a terrifying experience. I vividly remember barely making it inside to the point of slamming the door in that bird’s face! To this day, emus freak me out. It’s the one thing that I have not been able to shake. Yes, I, Lauren Martin, am afraid of emus.

Go ahead…laugh and then do some research. Emus are pretty dangerous. Animal control informed us that if the emu had caught us it would have kicked the living daylights out of us. Praise the Lord that my little feet managed to outrun a very large bird! Which brings me to today’s thoughts…

How often do I run for my life?

Often when I find myself in a difficult situation, my first thought is “fight or flight,” meaning should I stand against whatever is in front of me or turn around and run for my life. If the situation does not involve me personally, I will stand and fight tooth and nail for the sake of others. When it comes to me, I almost always run, making me a “flight risk.”

My bravery is nonexistent when it comes to standing up for myself. So, I run like there is no tomorrow because I’m afraid to turn around and run full force toward the things that terrify me. It is not a great feeling running for your life in fear of what is chasing you, both literally and figuratively.

Through this revelation, the Lord has reminded me of some very sweet promises and motivations to run toward the fullness of life and away from the destruction of man.

In John 10:10, Jesus says, “A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.”

So, why do I run now?

Over the last couple of years, I have developed a love for running. It is such an amazing release and outlet for letting go of bad days, events, etc. because you have to focus on putting one step in front of the other and forget about everything else around you.

It is one hour a day that I am isolated to my own thoughts. I decide when to quit and when to push past the desire to quit. One day, I realized that running teaches perseverance, which I’m sure is why the author of Hebrews used that as an analogy. He says,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2, ESV)

The thing about running is you have to eliminate all distractions in order to reach the finish line. That is what Hebrews is telling us. We have example after example of people demonstrating the ability to cross the finish line of this life. What a blessing! Those examples show us that we absolutely must leave our baggage at the cross (sin, fears, insecurities, imperfections). It is no longer ours to bear, yet we continually bind ourselves in chains.

When we are weighed down by our own shortcomings, our mission to the finish line of bringing God all glory is seemingly impossible. It will send us in a state of self-destruction which is exactly what Satan wants. Remember, Satan can’t touch us, but he can manipulate us. Just take a look at 2 Corinthians.

“Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be displayed in our body.”

—2 Corinthians 4:7-10

Remember, it is through the death of the one and only spotless Lamb, Jesus Christ, that we are given life! We must throw off the weight of the chains and run for the sake of the cross. We must…

“Submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” —James 4:7

We must continue running full force against the deceptions of the world. In doing so, we are running into the loving arms of our Creator. There is no better place to be.

No doubt it is discouraging at times to be struck down, and it’s incredibly hard to continue the race. Sometimes it just seems so much easier to give up.

How do I press on when everything tells me to quit?

I have learned that without my workout partner it is extremely hard to push past the difficulty breathing, sore muscles, and every ounce of my body telling me to quit. I am so thankful for her accountability in pushing past what I think I can do!

When I am weak and wanting to quit, my workout partner is strong and motivates me to press on. When she is weak, I am able to motivate her to press on. It has been such a sweet reminder of the need for community and the body of Christ to work together. Whether we like it or not, we need each other. We cannot run this race alone.

What motivates us to press on?

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Therefore, let all of us who are mature think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this also to you.” —Philippians 3:13-15

We have to discipline our mind, body, and spirit to forget the past and press on to what is in front of us. That is not a simple task. It is one that I obviously struggle with, but the beauty of living in the blood of Jesus is that we are refined and refreshed through the living and active Word of God.

What does it look like to strain toward what is ahead and forgetting what is behind?

The routine of my workout is constant, meaning I know where the finish line is, but sometimes its distance is daunting. When I am running, I have to give myself mini goals along the way. So, say my calves start to burn about 1/2 a mile into my workout. Instead of focusing on the pain, I tell myself to make it to the third light pole ahead. Before I know it, I have made it to that light pole with ease because I stopped focusing on the pain in my body. Every ounce of me was focused on making it to that light pole. Once I reach that goal, I set another one—until I reach the end of our route (aka: finish line).

Some days are harder than others for sure. Sometimes, I can’t reach the goals set before me. The thing is that we must continue setting goals, and over time, it does become easier to run toward the finish line.

The beauty of running…

It brings clarity and time to reflect on life. It’s just you and the Lord. No distractions. You may be constantly moving, but your mind is isolated and forced to reflect. You can only divert your mind for so long while running, so in order to continue the race, we must stay focused and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. That is the only way we will be able to endure the race and run toward life to the fullest.

By no means have I mastered the art of running, but I will continue training and building up my endurance to conquer whatever obstacles may come.

What do you say? Want to join me in the greatest race of all time? I promise—you don’t want to miss it.