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.
Distance: 4.53 miles (7.3 km) Time: 41’ 48” (PB 38’ 38”)
Out for a lunch-time run today. Quite warm but overcast so not too hot.
There was a pleasant breeze that was both cooling and at my back.
Which is of course where you want any breeze to be! You want it to be a help and not a hindrance; to reduce the effort and not increase it.
In the spiritual life it is much the same. God’s Spirit is often described as a wind, an invisible force that we experience without being able to see His presence.
Sometimes that Spirit-wind feels like it is at our back. The spiritual life is easy and fruitful. We feel that we are making progress. Our chosen spiritual disciplines do not feel burdensome and we sense they are helping us to grow and to change.
At other times we feel the opposite. Everything is hard, nothing seems to be happening spiritually, we wonder if it is all worth it.
I think that there are two possibilities when we feel like this.
Firstly it is entirely possible that God’s Spirit is blocking us because we are heading in the wrong direction.
St Paul had such an experience.
Paul and his companions travelled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.
7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.
8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Paul was trying to do what God had called him to do, to share the message of Jesus with the non-Jewish populations of the Roman Empire. And yet he is thwarted in some way both as he tries to enter the province of Asia and when he tries to enter Bithynia.
It is only after being blocked twice that he is open to receive a Spirit-inspired dream that guides him to Macedonia.
So sometimes when we are struggling to make any progress spiritually, it may be that we are heading in the wrong direction.
There is a further possibility;
Sometimes God allows trials and difficulties in order to strengthen our faith.
God’s primary goal for our lives is that we come to love Him more and more and be able to live in His love. This is why Jesus said;
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment.
Anything that God asks us to do, or allows to happen in our life, is designed to support this goal. In order to love God we need to know Him and sometimes we only get to know Him through difficult experiences. Jesus also said to his disciples;
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
So I guess the wise approach is to enjoy those halcyon days when everything is going easily, they are a grace and a blessing, enjoy them!
But when things feel tough and difficult and hard, pay attention. For either we are heading in the wrong way, or God is about to use something difficult to take us deeper in our relationship with Him.
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
 Acts 16:6-10 NIVUK
 Matthew 22:37-38
 John 16 :33
 James 1 :12
Distance: 4.53 miles Time: untimed and 41’19”
The past few weeks have been chaotic running-wise due to holidays and guests. I managed to squeeze one run in mid-point, but I was feeling so unfit after holiday excesses, that I didn’t even time myself.
Today I managed to get out in the early morning sunshine. Wasn’t looking forward to it, but actually it was fine and I feel far better for having done it, energy levels higher and concentration better.
It strikes me that much of life is about just ‘trogging on’ on days when you don’t feel like it, when you aren’t going to beat any records, when no-one else cares or is even watching. It is on these days that the ability to ‘trog on’ is vital, and, I would venture, massively important.
Everyone can motivate themselves when the world and his wife are watching, when great opportunities hang on the outcome, when glory beckons.
But only a few men and women of character and determination can motivate themselves when none of that is true. When the only thing standing between you and failure is your own iron will and no-one gives a hoot what you do.
In those hidden yet decisive moments we decide who we really are, and express our inner character and quality.
Interestingly the Bible expresses the same principle with regard to spiritually successful life.
But he who perseveres to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:13)
Salvation – a successful life in which we come to know God and be joined into His family – only happens to those who can dig in, on the long run, to the end.
Trogging on – it’s important.