I run on occasion, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m a runner. Truth be told, I’m probably more of a plodder. One foot in front of the other, slow and tortoise-like.
I’ve heard the term “runner’s high,” but so far the only high I’ve experienced comes after the run, when I eat the bowl of ice cream I promised myself as a reward.
So when I read this verse in Hebrews about running the race of faith, I have to say it doesn’t automatically instill inspiration in me:
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.
When I think of spiritual running, I tend to conjure up images of plodding along in the life of faith, putting one foot in front of the other from now until glory-be.
I’m not usually feeling the spiritual runner’s high.
But a few weeks ago, when I went to my parents’ house for a family get-together, something changed my perspective on the kind of running God might be talking about.
As I pulled into my parents’ driveway, my almost-two-year-old niece was in the garden, “helping” pick cucumbers. The minute I got out of the car, Addie spied me and started waddle-running toward me as fast as her little legs could take her. Her arms swung haphazardly from side to side as she zigzagged across the yard.
When she was about halfway to me, she hit a dip in the grass. Bam! Down she went, toppling bum over heels. But she barely seemed to notice—she just got up and kept running.
When she got closer, I saw something that permanently melted my auntie-heart: An impish grin was spreading across Addie’s face, her trademark dimple indenting one cheek. And that smile was running toward me for a hug.
Addie wasn’t plodding. She wasn’t trudging along, forcing one foot in front the other. She was running out of sheer joy. She had her destination in mind, and nothing was going to stop her.
That’s how I want to run this race of faith. I don’t want to run out of duty or because it’s good for me. I want to run more like Addie.
I want to run with a heart that’s overflowing with joy, knowing I’m running toward someone I love, toward someone who loves me.
Even when the race is hard and the finish line seems impossibly far away, know this: God is waiting for you at the finish line, with his arms open wide.
Seek . . . to cultivate a buoyant, joyous sense of the crowded kindnesses of God in your daily life.