As January barrels toward an end, the convictions and resolutions are beginning to burn. I thought about that as I hit the pavement week, feeling a little (okay, maybe a lot of) muscle burn. Lofty aspirations look good when the hills begin/ but mid-climb, status quo threatens to set in.

For Christmas I got a new pair of shoes. As is normal in our house, I didn’t really hold the shoes in my hands until a week ago. You know, the procrastination thing. But now that I have them, I’ve wasted no time in hitting the pavement.

Walking…. even though I’m a runner at heart.

Running jazzes me. It started in high school when I joined the Cross Country team to buttress my tennis fitness. It’s fun. It’s free. You can do it anywhere. For me, I’m not fast. I never won ribbons or awards. It’s not pretty when I run. But I love it. It’s one of those things that once it’s in your system, you crave it no matter your age or ability. After having Jack though, one of my knees has been reminding me I’m not a spring chicken. Last year, I was forced to admit that my running days (even walking) were over. I’ve been relegated to water aerobics and an elliptical machine – feeling sorry for myself – because I love being outdoors.

Until my new shoes.

I donned my cushy Christmas gift, grabbed a daughter and decided to hit the pavement – walking. Hoping that if I stay in the middle of the street (where it’s flat), maybe I might be able to at least get some walking in. My new shoes have made all the difference. Who knew?!

Last week, my morning walking buddy (Speed Police) got sick, so I went without her. Just being out there on familiar roads, I couldn’t stop myself. I didn’t care how much it would hurt later in the day. I had to do it. I ran. … and it was great.I did it again the next day, and again the next. So good… though slightly painful.

Leaning into a hill this morning, I was struck by the many lessons at hand – especially those associated with my relationship to God. Here are just a few:

  • Flat surfaces are doable, steep inclines make us question. You know, the “Why am I doing this?” question. It’s that status quo thing. It doesn’t take much effort to go with the flow. But when swimming upstream or climbing a hill it just might take a little more strength than my own. The underlying question for me… am I leaning on God or doing it on my own?
  • All those mindless miles I’ve put in on that boring, going nowhere elliptical machine have actually paid off. Like life, when we keep putting one foot in front of the other, feeling like we’re going nowhere, we just might be building muscles for a future hill. The three miles I ran felt like old hat thanks to what I have chalked up as wasted time put in behind the scenes. Do I realize that spending time in God’s Word and prayer are the same thing. Many days I feel like it’s going nowhere, but boy do I need to log those miles so the climbs might feel like flat ground. Feelings can be deceptive.
  • It’s dark in the morning. Uneven pavement and potholes hide in the pre-dawn obscurity. As the sun rises, its light reveals the bumps, cracks and uneven pavement. It shines, making my path safe and clear. Probably the most obvious reminder of the morning of how desperately I need his light – the light that makes clear my path.

Then I thought about muscle burn. When exercising, I need to lean into the burn. The burn means I’m taking action… I’m moving, using muscles that might have been stagnant.

But unlike physical training, the burn I feel when pursuing God is not ME conquering mountains that produces it. Those mountain climbing muscles are well toned. My grab and clinch get plenty of exercise. Do it myself is good to go.

No, when I feel the pursuing God burn, it’s my letting go and running toward muscles that are getting some action. Dare I admit, the pursuing God burn only occurs when I’m exercising my muscles to rest and surrender. Because when I pursue Him, my running shoes go on different feet. His feet. It has a little something to do with soaring “on wings like eagles”.

Hmm…. Here’s hoping we’re all feeling that burn.

Thanks for walking (jogging… maybe hobbling) the road with me.


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