Distance: 4.53 miles (7.3 km) Time: 42’ 54” (PB 38’ 38”)
The cheek of some people!
As I was running around Watermeads Country Park on my usual run; in reply to my cheery, “Good afternoon. God bless you!” some cheeky beggar shouted out to me,
“Shall I call the ambulance now?”
Which made me realise that I do not have the running equivalent of a ‘poker face’.
Some people have a running gait that looks effortless – even when they’re pushing hard.
Some have a beatific facial expression that belies all effort.
Not so me!
It is very obvious that every ounce of pain and effort is writ large on my face and shown in my belaboured running gait.
I guess this is true in the spiritual life too.
For some people the spiritual life looks easy. They exemplify certain verses in the Bible that seem to indicate this is how things should be;
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
For others the spiritual life doesn’t look like that at all. Rather it is more like some other scriptural verses. I think of St Paul’s use of metaphors from the boxing ring and the gym;
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?
Run in such a way as to get the prize.
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.
They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly;
I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.
No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
So which of these is the truth about the spiritual life?
I guess the classic answer is both/and.
There are times when things go easy, God seems close, blessings are abundant and we can very well agree with Brother Lawrence that;
Our business is simply to love and be happy in God.
At other times God will seem remote, blessings none existant, the demands of the spiritual life burdensome, and the rewards absent.
It is at times like these that the mental toughness developed by running can help.
We run even when it isn’t fun, because we know it is good.
Likewise we love and centre our lives on God, regardless of the payoff. It is simply the right way to ‘be’. And our perspective is the long game; not the close horizon of our earthly existence, but the far horizon of an eternity with God enjoying Him and all the good He has planned for us.
From the perspective of eternity our pains will be our pride;
they will be the inerasable evidence of our love for, and commitment to, God.
 Matthew 11 :28-30 NIV
 1 Corinthian 9:24-27 NIV
 The Practice of the presence of God, 2nd conversation.