Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. [Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT)]

turtle (western box) - NM1764awebRecently, my son ran a half-marathon on a blistering hot and humid Chicago day. A seasoned runner, he said it felt like the longest 13.1 miles he’d ever run. Fortunately, the water stations kept him well hydrated and then, just when he thought he’d “hit the wall,” he came to a spray station that cooled runners as they ran through the water. My son simply paused for a bit under the mist, feeling the cool water on his skin, until he felt ready to run again. He scaled back on his goal of a personal best—time no longer mattered; he just wanted to finish the race.

Although I’m not a runner, I am a writer trying to run the race God has set before me. I examined myself to see what extra weight could be shed and found the burdens of doubt and fear—doubt that I am up to the task and fear that I will run out of words and ideas. Moreover, it won’t be a private defeat—it will be in front of a crowd of witnesses—my readers. I knew I had to shed my negative thoughts and lighten my load, but how?

I thought about my son’s half-marathon and the water stations and cooling spray that had refreshed him during the grueling race. Rather than water and mist, perhaps I needed another kind of refreshment—prayer and meditation. I sat quietly with my Bible, prayed and read, and felt refreshed instead of burdened. Reading God’s word and sitting quietly in prayer was like a hydration station for the soul—it filled and refreshed me with living water. Instead of hurrying on to my tasks, I followed my son’s example and spent a good long time under God’s shower of peace. I stripped off the doubt and fear—they’ll only hold me back—and replaced them with faith and confidence.

God signed me up for this race. Even though I didn’t get a t-shirt or water bottle, it is a race that has given me tremendous joy and one I want to continue. Instead of sore muscles, there have been a few headaches but, without a doubt, I want to see it all the way to the finish line, whenever that may be. That pause to refresh, however, reminded me that God didn’t say I had to do a marathon—that was my decision. Perhaps, at my age, I’m more a 10K girl. Knowing I need to accept my own limitations, I’m going to run a shorter course of five messages a week and take extra time each day to be refreshed by that living water.

Slow but sure wins the race! [The Tortoise’s comment to the Hare in Aesop’s fable]

Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, “Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.” [John 7:37-38 (NLT)]

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. [Isaiah 40:31 (NLT)]