At the very end of elementary school, I discovered I could run. It shocked everyone, myself most of all. You see, I was painfully awkward. I was always the last to be picked when we divided into teams in gym class. I liked playing sports about as much as I like eating fried liver.
Which is not at all.
I’m not sure who assigned the heats for the 800m race. All I know is that, on track and field day in Grade 8, I was put in a heat with the fastest girls in class. I gulped hard as I lined up at the starting line. I hadn’t yet run a step and my heart was already beating fast.
I remember the sound of the starting gun. Feet pounding gravel. Sides aching. Pushing harder than I’d ever pushed before. And then…
Is this the third lap where I conserve energy? Or the fourth and final lap where I let loose and give it my all?
I couldn’t remember. I had lost count.
Best to conserve energy just in case, I thought.
Wrong decision. And suddenly, it was over.
Somehow, I came in milliseconds away from a second place ribbon. Despite conserving energy. Despite holding back.
The shy kid who avoided attention like the plague, who hated sports and dreaded gym class had run with the fastest girls in the school and had held her own.
I’ve never raced again, but I’ve held onto that memory. Because, truth be told, there are days when I don’t know if I have what it takes to run this race. Being a wife and a mom means pushing myself harder than I’ve ever had to push myself before.
Pushing myself to be more patient. Pushing myself to be more kind. Pushing myself to not envy other moms. To not boast when I get it right for once. To not be rude when my momma feathers get ruffled.
Essentially, I’m pushing myself to love.
Here’s the beautiful thing. We run this race with our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). We run with our eyes fixed on the “prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
We don’t run in our own strength. Quite the opposite, in fact. As we run, Philippians 2:13 says that God is working in us to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
He is working in us to love others because He loved us first and because He is love and is dwelling in us.
Knowing this, as our feet pound the gravel and our sides ache, we don’t need to worry about conserving energy. We’re able throw off everything that holds us back and give this race our all.
Even when the house is a mess. Even when we catch ourselves yelling because the kids aren’t listening … again. Even when we stumble and fall flat on our face.
Over and over.
We get up and keep going because there’s more to life than what we see. Jesus endured death on a cross but did not give up because of the joy set before him, and because of him there is joy set before us too.
Stay focused, momma.
It’s a long and difficult race, but we’re not running in our strength.
We’re running in His.
And when we run in His perfect strength, we will fight the good fight and finish well.
We’ll lay hold of the prize.