“Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win.” -1 Corinthians 9:24
In high school, I was a runner. My main event was the 1600 meter (one mile) race. My senior year in high school I quit the basketball team so that I could focus solely on improving my mile time with hopes of going to the State competition. I would get up at 6am and head to the track before school to run my own training circuit, separate from the work outs we would have for practice after school. Through my hard work and dedication, I made it to the regional track meet for the first time. I was ranked 7th going into the meet and needed to place in the top 4 in order to make it to the State competition. I ran my heart out, ended up running a personal record time of 4 minutes 35 seconds and placed 4th overall! I was going to State!
Ever since I graduated from high school, my desire to run has dissipated. I have no goal anymore. When I run, I almost feel like there is no purpose other than to fulfill a passion of the past. So why do I run? For pride? To be able to say I can still run a mile in under a minute? What’s the point?
As a Life Teen Missionary, we live by a Rule of Life based on the Rule of St. Benedict. Part of this rule calls us to reflect on how we are glorifying God in our bodies. Part of this calls us to exercise and re-create (recreate) our bodies through physical activity. I’ve tried to get into the habit of running 4 or 5 times a week, but alas, my lack of motivation has kept me to 1 or 2 times a week.
Last week, I went for a run and pushed myself harder than I have since I was training for the state competition in high school. I finally found the mental toughness to push myself for that extra mile lap so that by the end of the run I was bent over my knees struggling just to stand up. What was my motivation this time? Prayer.
As I started the final lap, I had a massive cramp. To push through the pain I started praying for anyone and everyone I knew from family to people I’ve only met once or twice. I shouted out intentions and prayed for people by name all the while listening to Switchfoot and meditating on Christ’s painful passion. I’m sure my little cramp, sore legs and dry mouth were nothing compared to the blood spilt on Calvary but the thought of being, to a small extent, like Christ in accepting this suffering inspired me onward.
I finished my run and felt great. My body felt rejuvenated and fully alive, and my spirit regained meaning from the amount of prayers I had just offered up.
Let’s both agree to take the mundane and make it meaningful. Anything from washing dishes to our daily jog to that hour long drive home from work/school can be turned into a prayer. Don’t run the race in vain, take advantage of every moment. “Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize” (1 Cor 9:24). We’re all running. The one who wins the prize is the one who runs to win the prize of salvation. Run so as to win.
“As I look to the Day of Christ, you give me cause to boast that I did not run the race in vain…” -Philippians 2:16