One of my best kept secrets is that I love to run. However, as much as I love it, I have a number of excuses for why I don’t do it. Which now that I think about it, that sounds crazy! Anyways, I recently decided to start kicking the excuses to the curb and run again. I haven’t ran in a couple years so getting back into shape has been a very slow process, but I am enjoying it. Every step feels like victory for a lot of reasons. It feels like I am taking control over areas that have felt very out of my control.
I have been logging three to four miles at a local park every few days. The park has each tenth of a mile marked. So, I run a tenth of a mile, and then walk several tenths. It’s been working out really well. I am starting to get to know the trail and as I run I can encourage myself “just one more bend” or “just until that tree”. Now don’t let me fool you when I say I am “logging three to four miles”, I am probably only running a total of a half mile on my best days. I told you, this is a slow process!
After a long week of work travel and craziness in my personal life, I recently decided to go out for a run. It is hot in Missouri. Really hot. You could feel the humidity heavy in the air and I probably went out at the hottest time of the day, but I didn’t care. I needed my feet to hit the pavement. I needed some alone time. I needed fresh air to clear my mind.
When I arrived at the park, I put my earbuds in and started walking. As I walked, I thought about the prior week. The week had been full of heartbreaking news, broken trust and hard situations. As I started to sort through my emotions, I started to run. One tenth turned into two tenths and then three. Before I knew it, I had angrily ran two straight miles and I couldn’t breathe.
I was wheezing like an asthmatic. I was dripping with sweat. My entire body hurt and the headache that has been following me around for months was pounding and threatening my vision. I had completely overdone it and I was still a mile away from my car. I was angry. Angry at the situations that made me feel the need to run. Angry that my body wasn’t in better shape. Angry that I hadn’t listened to my body. Angry that the running hadn’t cleared my mind. I tried to slowly limp and cough my way back to my car, before I waved the white flag. This wasn’t going to work.
I picked up my phone and called Dan. Without hesitation, Dan came for me. He told me to find shade, sit down, and concentrate on taking deep breaths. Like a knight in shining armor, Dan showed up with coconut water and a very cool car. I could have cried when I saw him. I was so embarrassed. I should know better.
I must have apologized twenty times, before Dan finally said “Babe, stop apologizing, I will always come rescue you.” Friends, I can’t wrap my head around how blessed I am to be married to such an amazing man.
The next day, my body was feeling the effects of the angry run I took the day prior. My back was tight, my feet hurt and drinking a gallon of water didn’t feel like enough. However, my mind was still spinning. I couldn’t seem to sit down, and finally I looked at Dan and said “I need to go run”. He looked me straight in the eye and said “If you run, I am not coming after you this time. Just stop!” Ha! Not the romantic response you imagined right?
In that moment I had a choice. I could have left the house and went for a run, and if I wouldn’t have been able to return to the house I know Dan would have come for me. I know the heart of my husband and I know he loves me too much to let me die at the park. However, I could also stay in the safety of our cool home, drink a gallon of water and recover from the angry run I took the day prior. I could choose to sit with Dan and talk.
The next day as I was explaining the angry run and the back pain it had caused to one of my friends, it hit me how Dan was a perfect reflection of the Father. Just like Dan came and rescued me after my angry run, our Father does the same. Again and again, when we have sinned or run away from Him to a place that seems unforgivable, He comes for us. We see promises about the Father coming to our rescue all over the Bible.
Just as I know Dan’s heart, I also know my Father’s heart. He would leave ninety-nine to find me (Matthew 18:12-14 and Luke 15:3-7). He never tires of me calling out to Him for rescue and He never stops showing how much He loves me. (The Ninety-Nine)
It’s beautiful to think about the Fathers relentlessness love for me. It’s amazing to think that there is literally nothing I could do that would cause Him to stop coming for me. If I am being honest, I can’t wrap my head around that kind of deep and wide love. It doesn’t matter how far I am, He will always come. However, I have a choice to NOT run.
I am realizing there are places in my life that instead of taking my thoughts to the Father, I run. I intellectually know who God is. I know He will come for me, I know He hears me and I know He will provide for me. Yet, I still run. I don’t run with the expectation that He will rescue me, I run because I think I can do it alone. I try to put my problems in pretty boxes before I take them to Him. I try to process my feelings before I just simply take them to the Father. Instead of simply saying “Father, you know what happened, but I don’t know what to say about it or how to feel.” I angry run. I strive and work to try to “fix” it myself.
Psalm 23:1-4 says this:
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Isaiah 41:10 says this:
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 46:6 says this:
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
Psalm 46:1-3 says this:
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
Proverbs 18:10 says this:
The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
The reality is I more than intellectually know the difference between running and resting in the Father. I have experienced it. In 2013, Dan and I lost our first baby. I did a lot of running that year. I scrubbed crazy places in our house, I put on fake smiles and I refused to deal with my emotions. My life felt broken, and I yelled at God for doing the breaking. However, He chased me. He rescued me and showed me how deep He loved me. He showed me He never broke anything, but He could use the broken pieces to paint a beautiful picture.
In 2017, Dan and I lost our second baby. After that second loss, I took one look at those broken pieces and crawled into the safety of my Fathers arms. I let him hold me, and let Him heal the hurt that had no words. Allowing the Father to hold me is always better than angry running. I so easily forget.
Today, if you are feeling like you are spinning out of control, I want to encourage you to stop running. Take off your running shoes with me and lean into God as your refuge. Angry running is never worth it.
(All scripture included in this post are from the New International Version.)