I recently started marathon training. The program I’m using requires me to run five days each week, totaling anywhere from thirty to eighty miles. There is rarely a day when my legs don’t feel either sore or just dead, useless slabs of meat. Each day, it is hard to go out for that day’s run.
The first mile is hard. My heart rate rises quickly to near what ought to be my max, my lungs gasp, as if I had caught them by surprise. I imagine them saying, “Not this again!” There’s no bounce in my step, no push-off. My calves are fighting against the tightness in my heel and my shins. As a result, I feel like I’m in a barely controlled fall, crashing to the ground with each step.
The great runners almost glide; they float along, barely tapping the ground before each step launches them back into the air. Catherine Ndereba’s coach called her “Whisper” because she made almost no sound as she rounded the track. If you were training on the same track, you would never know she was coming up behind you. It’s a beautiful sight to see, such grace and effortless power. I don’t have pretensions of matching Catherine the Great.
However, I have done this training program before. I know that the things that make me hurt now will not in the future. They will become normal, as walking is now. I know that my strides will lengthen and my calves will become strong, launching my body along with a little less effort than before. I know that my heart and lungs will become more efficient. I know they will someday respond with a “ho-hum.”
In Isaiah 40, God promises to give strength to the weary. We will soar on the wings of eagles, just like Catherine. If not that, we will certainly run and not get tired. Failing that, we will certainly manage to put one foot in front of the other and walk ourselves into a new life. God will meet us where we are and help us move just a little farther along. This may seem hard to believe at certain times and seasons in our lives. Life is not a simple analog to an exercise program; simply toughing it out does not always lead to better things. And yet, I trust in this promise. I have experienced it, if I can only remember.
Please join us this Sunday, 11am at Church in the Cliff, as we remember our weariness and the source of our strength.
Grace & Peace,