Welcome to this installment in the series Journey: Finding Faith in Running, a series focused on taking a candid look at life through the lens of a runner. But not just any running journey – one that focuses on marrying the run with the sacrifice that Christ made for us all.
How can we find Christ in the midst of an easy run? Or a grueling run? Or a run after weeks or months after an injury or a break due to life circumstances? Ink Slinger Randi (the Runner) will take us through her own journey of running, going back almost two full decades.
We know that pain and suffering have divine purpose. Perhaps you have been a runner for many years – or maybe you have just started taking up running. What better way to take that suffering and repurpose it for Christ.
If you follow me on social media, or my website, it’s common knowledge that every year during winter I take a break from running. My body and my mental state fully embrace hibernation mode and my running becomes pretty much none existent. I enjoy quieter, and warming, mornings inside sipping coffee, reading, doing laundry and other wife and mom duties. Running takes a back seat on my priority list, and I use this time to rest and regroup. I love this time to just be. To just sit in the season of no running and more time for family. But every Spring, when the weather warms up, the greyness of Winter lifts, and the sun begins to shine, I crave being outside and running. And so, my running journey starts again, very slowly and painfully – both literally and figuratively. And every year, this coincides with Lent. I mean, this isn’t too surprising right? This is a total God Wink.
“Lent” means to “lengthen” to distinguish the longer days, but in Old English it also means “spring”. During Spring the days get longer, sunnier, warmer, birds begin to chirp, plants begin to grow, and flowers began to bloom. We are surrounded by new life. And in my own soul, a desire to start again, to begin a new, to bloom, echoes loudly leading me to lacing up my running shoes once again.
Like any journey, the start back to running after a long 2, 3, or even 4-month hibernation is not all rainbows and butterflies. It’s slow, sometimes painful as my legs adjust to the exertion and my body accommodates to early mornings again. It’s also frustrating as I am forced to focus on rebuilding my fitness, rather than being in racing shape. It’s a hard journey with lots of “hards.” It’s a test of determination, will, and perseverance. It’s downright humbling. And every time I think about my journey, I somehow come back full circle to Jesus’ ultimate journey.
Christ had a passionate journey that ultimately led to the world’s salvation.
Sit with that for a minute.
Jesus had a journey, that ultimately led to OUR, mine and yours, salvation. His suffering secured eternity for us. But not just eternity; eternity with Him. When I think about this, how Jesus – fully divine AND fully human – human like you and I, I am blown away. Humbled, loved, taken aback – all these words come to mind, but they all lack. They lack the weight, the magnitude, the intensity, the love in which Jesus willingly accepted His journey.
Do I accept my own journey with as much importance, selflessness, and love as Jesus did?
The beauty of the Church’s liturgical year is that every spring, every Lent, I am reminded of Christ’s passion and journey as I begin my own journey. I am forced to think, to ponder, to meditate, to pray on this. And similarly, our journey here on earth is for our own salvation, so that we may have eternal life with Him. What a powerful image! Christ journeyed through the Garden of Gethsemane, was scourged at the pillar, crowned with thorns, carried His cross, was nailed to the cross, and then in Calvary He returned to Paradise (Luke 23:43) for our salvation. For us.
What a journey He had. When I look at this I gain so much perspective surrounding my own journey. My suffering is not for naught. My suffering is not insignificant. My suffering unites me – human me – to God Himself. My suffering opens my body, mind, and soul to purification. My suffering carries me along a journey to eternity. My suffering through hard miles, atrophied muscles, and exhausted lungs unites me to Jesus’ journey that leads Him to saving me. When I carry the burden of training and getting comfortable with running once again, I am reminded that Jesus carried his own cross. And He fell. And fell again. And fell once more. He reminds me that it’s okay to fall. Its okay for it to be hard; the running, the wife-ing, the mom-ing, the just doing life. And in that hard, I can take refuge in His journey, in His sacrifice, in His love, because He made it alright again. I am humbled beyond words for Christ’s journey and sacrifice, and if anything, that deserves a few miles on tired, out of shape legs.