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.

Run no. 45 – The blessing of an unknown route


Distance: ?? miles      Time: 24’33”

It has been very rainy the last 24 hours and my usual route was highly likely to be waterlogged, so I decided to run some loops around the streets nearby. THis was something I had never done before.

As I ran up my street for the first time I experienced the rather steep rise at the end. Although only short it was quite tough and left me struggling for breath.

I ran on going round in a loop.

As I started the third circuit I realised how much I detested knowing exactly where the climbs were, the places where it was going to hurt. Somehow knowing exactly where they were and feeling the dread rising as they approached made it a deeply unpleasant experience.

It struck me that it is a great blessing in life not to know what is in front of us; to not have to live in dread and fear of certain disaster.

The future is always unknown and as such to be considered as redolent of possibility and hope.

Certainly disaster and mishap will most probably fall upon us at some point – that is the nature of our existence, but that possibility needn’t rob us of our joy in the present and our hope for the future.

Of course it is in exactly this area that Christian faith most strongly shines. It is both realistic about the reality of earthly life with its admixture of joys and sorrows, and strongly, unbreakably optimistic, in the light of eternity.

Paradoxically, it is the freedom this faith gives to not value our life in this world too highly, that enables us to live it fully; to risk; to dare; to challenge; to invest our energies in a different, fuller, brighter, eternal future.

Although we cannot and do not know the details of our earthly future (thank God!), we do know the quality, if not the detail, of our eternal future; and the Father who loves us, knows both.

‘all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be’

(Psalm 139:16)