Run no. 102 – You don’t know you can until you do

runner lower back pain

Distance: 3.6 miles (5.8 km) Time: 39’ 13”

Emerging from another running hiatus. Second run after a 6 month break. At the moment just getting round without stopping is the goal. Geologically slow pace!

This time I almost didn’t even make it. Immediately within the first 100m I got a massive pain in my lower back; an agonising jolt with every step.

I was really, really close to turning back.

But I’m stubborn and decided to try and ‘run through it’.

Gradually the level of pain subsided and by half-way ‘round it was only a dull ache.

Now I’ve stopped it has come back pretty full on, so ‘Pass the ibuprofen, please’.

But the experience made me think about how many times we stop too early. We assess our chances and capabilities too negatively. How many achievements do we talk ourselves out of?

In my working life I find that at 55 I am doing lots of things for the first time. A new role is pushing me out of the areas of comfort.

I am fortunate to have colleagues who encourage me. Who maybe see things in me that I don’t yet see myself. Who have a measure of my ability and gifting that exceeds my own self-evaluation.

And it is great when I surprise myself. When I do things that I didn’t know I could.

Sometimes you don’t know what you can do until you do it.

I have a sense that it is the same with the spiritual life.

How many times do we not try operating out of our comfort zones?

Have you ever prayed with someone who is ill, that God might heal them as a demonstration of His love for them? Have you dreamed of it, but never done it? How do you know that God has not gifted you with the gift of praying for healing?

Certainly we can never promise anyone anything, for it is God who acts not us. But what about offering to pray saying, ‘I don’t know what God will do, but I am convinced that He cares about you and I feel He is prompting me to pray.’ After you pray ask the person whether they were aware of anything. Listen and decide together what the next step, if any, might be. Maybe you’ll both get a surprise…

Have you ever spoken to someone about Jesus? How do you know that you are not gifted in helping people encounter Jesus for themselves?

Why not ask a friend an open question like, ‘Has there ever been any time in your life when you felt close to God?’ Listen to their response and have a conversation. Maybe they’ll ask you in return and you can share how Jesus became a real person for you and the difference He has made in your life.

Or maybe you could say, ‘You know the Bible is the most amazing book. It’s been the No. 1 best-seller since the invention of the printing press. I mean a book that, in parts, is around 3500 years old! Would you be interested in looking at some of the stories that Jesus told and exploring what they might mean, if anything, for us today?’

Maybe they’ll say yes. Maybe you’ll find yourself reading the parables of Jesus, imagining how they might be retold today in our culture. Maybe you might imagine together what difference it might make if people took them seriously in their lives.

How many times do we miss out on something good because we talk ourselves out of trying?

Sometime you don’t know what you can do until you do it.

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Run no. 36 & 37 – Surprising Yourself

surpriseRun No. 36 – Hard work from the off.

Distance: 4.53 miles   Time: 40’41”   (PB 39’ 39”)

Awful. Nothing to redeem it. Bizarrely I was too hot – on the 27th October! Ugh!

Run No.37 – Surprising yourself

Distance: 4.53 miles   Time 38’28” NEW PB (Previous PB 39’ 39”)

A cold, misty November lunch-time.

I felt sprightly from the off, but as I’ve only managed to get in one run a week for the past two weeks, I was not expecting a good time.

I felt like I was pushing hard all of the way round, with very few lapses in concentration. But it always feels hard, so nothing new there!

I was shocked and stunned to see my time on arriving back – 1’11” FASTER THAN MY PREVIOUS PB!

An 8’30” per mile pace which is not bad for an old man!

Moments like this leave you wondering, “Where the blazes did that come from?!”

How is it possible that I could make that kind of jump in performance, just like that?

If we can still be surprised from time to time by our own behaviour, then it strikes me that we don’t really know ourselves very well at all.

And if we don’t know ourselves that well then we should certainly be a bit hesitant to imagine that we have understood other people at any deep level.

I have known a few old men who have had the experience of going to war. I knew one who had won a medal for extreme bravery – he went into a burning fuel dump to rescue a comrade. Another one had had to survive in the jungle for weeks being tracked by the enemy, living off the land.

None of these men ever wished to speak of their experiences, some of them were still troubled with nightmares decades later. All of them were amongst the gentlest; kindest people I have ever met.

Yet in the extreme circumstances of war they had found things out about themselves.

They had found themselves capable of doing things that they now wished to forget.

The question

“What am I capable of ?”

is always ambiguous.

There is the hope that we might well be capable of the great, the glorious, the good, the generous, the self-giving.

Yet there is also the fear that, if driven to it, we might also be capable of unspeakable horror.

Who knows what is in the heart of a man?

There are some helpful words in the book of divine wisdom, also known as The Bible:

I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind,

to reward each person according to their conduct,

according to what their deeds deserve.” Jeremiah 17:10

The Lord does not look at the things people look at.

People look at the outward appearance,

but the Lord looks at the heart.’ 1 Samuel 16:7

Which is actually quite terrifying.

There is no possibility of hiding, no concealment of all our many flaws and failings; just the inescapable fact of judgement; when we get everything we deserve for our screw-ups, nastiness, selfishness etc.

Which is an awful prospect – at least for those of us who know ourselves to be weak, fallible, sinful people…

…were it not for the following promise of God to all those who turn to Him:

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you;

I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

God was the originator of heart transplant surgery!

And He is still in business.

And He is still at the top of His game.