There are some really amazing things that I have learned about long distance running over the past few years. We live up near the mountains, and so the roads that I run on are very hilly and curvy. They’re beautiful, but they’re challenging. If I’m completely honest with you, when I’m running uphill sometimes I just want to quit. In fact when I first started running, I used to kind of trudge uphill, all the while thinking, “I wanna quit. I wanna walk. This is too hard. I can’t do this.” BUT… if I could just make it over that hill, the most amazing thing would happen. My adrenaline would begin to pump. All of a sudden there was an amazingly breathtaking view of the mountains. All of a sudden I am going downhill. Suddenly gravity is in my favor. It’s an exhilarating feeling, and amazingly, though just moments ago I was determined that I couldn’t even take the next step, NOW I’m convinced that I could go for MILES. There is a wonderfully euphoric feeling that washes over me as my heart pumps. There is even a pep in my step. Sometimes I even feel so overjoyed and overwhelmed that my running feels more like dancing. Anyone who has never experienced might think I’m even exaggerating at this point, but I’m really not.
Over time I have learned a valuable lesson about these hills. First of all, I have learned to expect them. Now when I approach a hill, I do not even ALLOW myself to think the same thoughts. Remember… I used to think, “I wanna quit. I wanna walk. This is too hard. I can’t do this.” and now instead of these thoughts I say to myself, “Yes. Another hill! I am getting so strong. These hills are great training. I can beat anyone because I have trained on these hills.” And then you wanna know what I do? I sprint them. Yep. All out. Pedal to the metal. You wanna know why? Because I’m gaining momentum and I am getting stronger. And again, a phenomenal thing happens as I round the top of that hill. If feels like all of heaven is cheering me on as I feel the blood coursing through my body, and my adrenaline pump fiercely. Suddenly I can even hear “Eye of the Tiger” playing in the background as the sweat drips off my face.
The thing that God showed me is that the radical life of a bondservant of Jesus is a lot like my runs up here in the hills of Virginia. Many people might think that life with the Lord is a downhill run with the wind in your face. This is false. If I can guarantee you of anything, it’s that you’ll face another hill. These hills are representative of a trial… a problem… a tragedy… you know what I’m talking about. You will encounter these, but we all have a choice in how to respond to them. You could be like I used to be on the start of a hill, complaining the whole time and wishing you could quit. Or you can see this problem as what it truly is. Training. You’ll be an amazing runner because you’ve trained with the biggest baddest hills around.
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I have a runner friend who runs competition runs with other runners, and I remember that he told me once, “The hills are where I pass the other runners.” This made me laugh when I recalled it as I was preparing a sermon one day. You see, there are those who won’t even go where I’ve been. They won’t run the hills that I’ve ran. They picked a safer trail. A flatter one. They said, “Oh that’s foolishness. She should just run on the treadmill. Get a gym membership. It would be safer.” But you see, THEY’RE MISSING SOMETHING! The downhill run is the MOMENTUM OF HEAVEN! Once I round the top of that hill, gravity is in my favor! Not only have I passed a lot of people on the way up (because remember, I don’t trudge up the hill anymore… I SPRINT), but by the time I top that hill, I am PUMPED. I’m a MACHINE. I’m in beast mode. Suddenly I believe that I can conquer the world. I can do all things because I am backed by all of Heaven.
So I pass this on to encourage you and exhort you. The next time you see a hill in the distance, I want you to look it dead in the face and I want you to say, “I’ve been expecting you. In fact, I’ve been looking forward to you.” Whenever you sprint the hill, God turns your hills (problems) around and causes them to bless you with a heavenly momentum! Sprint the hill, people! Sprint it with a smile on your face, because on the flip side of that hill is your heavenly momentum!
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