i am a runner. well, i think of myself as a runner. i used to be a runner. i haven't really been a runner for 5 years, but i still identify myself as a runner. there are many things in life that got in the way of my running - having babies, messed up knees that needed physical therapy, having babies, no sleep, hurting knees, having babies... you get the idea. yet i still think of myself as a runner because of the passion i have had for running in the past.
when i went to physical therapy last time (see how i have to make a distinction that this wasn't the only time), they told me to find another sport. how about swimming they suggested? i love swimming in the lake, but doing laps? i last maybe two lengths of the pool and then i am ready to move onto something else. how about the elliptical machine? being stuck in a gym with no change of scenery did not entice me much either. i am an outdoors kind of girl, looking for the wide open spaces and thriving off the feeling on my feet pounding on the hard uneven surfaces of the earth. you know, they told me, it is the mommy/runners that keep us in business.
so, since my body needed to recondition to my beloved past-time in order to not be injured in the process, they gave me a gradual plan to start running again. to give you a context of what i thought was gradual, right before going in for all sorts of evaluations on my knees, i had just restarted running after having my second son uriah. my brother-in-law was running at the time, so i told him we would start with an easy two miles. compared to my 3-4 times a week 6 miles a day in the past, this seemed like cake to me. it was no angelfood cake to my knees. i was in pain and limping and bewildered why this short distance could take such a toll on my body.
well, come to find out, my physical therapists recommended i start out running 3 minutes a day, 3 times a week, increasing each week by no more than 10% in distance or time each week. you read that right. 3 lousy minutes. runners know that isn't even long enough to get my muscles warmed up and in a rhythm. they told me, if you are insistent on staying a runner and not finding another sport, you have to be patient with your muscles to restrengthen and retrain to prevent further injury and the dreaded runner knee surgery.
i see so much parallel in this with my prayer life with the Lord. there are times in the past that i still identify with those mountain top experiences, and i still think of myself as that person in the Lord that i once was. we all have them: the 40 day fast in college that was the clearest time in life of hearing God.; the times of laying down all those other things to seek Him more and find His face; the times when the hunger for the Word of God was so great we read through every book of the Bible still wanting more. but, it can be a little shocking to then get down to the details of what am i doing NOW? how long has it been since i was that person and who is the person am i today? am i willing to give up the passion and pursuit i once had, as so many will just attribute to the zeal of youth, or do i have the discipline and patience required to retrain my muscle in God and rebuild the intimacy of past days?
you see, i cannot survive off the manna from ten years ago. God told the israelites that He would give them enough manna - fresh "what is it" bread from Heaven - for that day. if they stored up some in a bottle for tomorrow because they did really great collecting extra today, the maggots would come and it would be destroyed. there was always more than enough, but the fresh encounter was always what was required.
being a full-time mommy, part-time manager of the world, keeps me rather busy. but i have found that being a radical lover of God will take the same focus and determination it is taking to become a runner again. even if i had an empty 4 hour undistracted time slot to seek Him today, i may not have the motivation or the lack of boredom to seek Him that long and not feel sore, discouraged, and very aware of the hardness of my heart afterwards. but i do have the ability to build up my endurance and desire (muscles) day by day, starting even with what seems as worthless as minutes a day.
or i could say, that will never get me anywhere, and i can stay spiritually out of shape, living in the fantasy that i am in the spiritual state i was 10 years ago because i have a distant memory of the mountain top experience.
this morning i ran for 12 minutes with no sore knees. quite the accomplishment if you factor in the discouragement and temptations to quit on all of those 3 minute, 4 minute, and even 5 minute days that made me acutely aware that i am not where i once was.
i won't quit pursuing the knowledge of the One who set my heart ablaze. i am a runner. i am a passionate lover of the One who saved my soul. the awareness of my current brokeness and weakness only causes me to love Him more.
i must have the fresh manna for today.
taste and see that He is good.