Run no. 16 – Running against the grain

against the grain

Distance: 4.53 miles   Time: 40’ 46”

Out for a run, slightly later this morning, around 0800 when I left and the sun was already out and it felt quite warm.

As I trundled around the lake I noticed that I don’t overtake many runners – not surprising in and of itself! But neither am I overtaken by many. This is mostly because everyone else seems to run around the lake in the opposite direction. I run counter clockwise whilst nearly everyone else runs clockwise.

I wondered as to why that might be?

Is it because after 14 years living in France and driving on the right hand side of the road, that I naturally tend to veer right at any junction?

Is it because my running gait has a tendency to throw me off to one side?

Or is it because I am just contrary and out of step with the world?! Am I just someone running against the grain?

There are many ways in which running goes against the grain for me.

I used to be tall and skinny – as a young man I was painfully thin and with long legs I was morphologically suited to long distance running. I would accidently find myself running as a young man. It was effortless.

Now I am still 6 foot tall, but the skinny adjective no longer applies! I’m therefore less well suited to running than I was. Running is less a natural expression of my youthful vitality and more something that goes against the grain.

Another way in which running goes against the grain is the fact that I don’t often enjoy running that much when I’m doing it – usually the pleasure only kicks in once I have stopped!

This pleasure is mostly linked to a sense of achievement that I have done it, that I’m still doing sport; that I am still trying to maintain a certain level of fitness and I am positive about the health benefits and sense of well-being that running supports. I know that exercise is no guarantee that I won’t get some awful disease or die young. But at least I know that I am helping my chances statistically; I am putting myself on the side of the angels.

In my spiritual life I also find myself required to do things that go against the grain.

The world tells me that happiness comes from outside of myself – people, possessions, money, and power.

Whereas the spiritual truth of the matter is that happiness comes from a restored relationship with God, at the deepest core of my being;

…you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you[1]

The process of being reconciled to God is only made possible because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God the Son;

Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’[2]

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them[3]

We must hope that the way(s) in which people can access this reconciliation that only Christ makes possible are as varied as possible. However, the only specific model we have is from Christ Himself and is presented in the nature of a choice freely made to trust in Him, to believe in Him.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.[4]

As we believe in Christ, we receive as a free gift, forgiveness, reconciliation, the indwelling Spirit of God, adoption into God’s family, and new life, which is unquenchable and eternal.

This then leads to a turning away from a life characterised by rebellion against God and from all that is displeasing to Him, and positively we turn ourselves towards God and orient our lives to pleasing Him, doing His will.

All of this goes against the grain. It requires a person to win that greatest of all battles -the battle against themselves.

[1] St Augustine (Trans. E. M. Blaiklock), The Confessions of Saint Augustine, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1983, p15

[2] John 14:6 NIV

[3] John 3:36 NIV

[4] John 3:16-18 NIV