Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Toughest One Yet

At 7:00 a.m. over 3,500 runners began the 2012 Double Bridge Run. Prior to race day, I had several friends who had previously run this race tell me that there was always a tail wind and since I’d recently run two half marathons, this 15K shouldn’t be too difficult. This seems to be a theme lately…people telling me, “oh, it will be easy” and then I get into whatever the task at hand is and it is WAY more difficult that anyone ever anticipated. It turns out that this particular morning, instead of the usual tail wind everyone so assuredly proclaimed, we were blessed with the challenge of a head wind all the way to the finish.

In making my way through downtown and to the first bridge, I was constantly reminding myself to look up and out, to help keep my focus on what was ahead and not the constant pounding of the pavement directly in front of me. The morning began a little overcast, but as I entered the 3 mile bridge the clouds began to break revealing little peeks of the blue sky and the sun shining through.

The Lord knows how much I enjoy the warm sunshine and in that moment I was encouraged and thankful. I just kept thinking of the words to the song When the Stars Burn Down:

Star of the morning, Light of salvation
God of all mysteries, Lord of the Universe
Righteous King

I kept thanking God for the sun and His Son and the energy to make it across the bridge. The wind was a constant and growing force pressing against me, almost pushing me backwards and there were times when I felt like I was running and going nowhere or worse yet, two steps forward and three steps back. I thought about the spiritual forces that press against us and how fierce they sometimes are and how we can’t physically see them, but we feel them, pushing us and much like being on the bridge and not being able to turn back (or jump over) we have no back up armor because God leads us through and protects us.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. – Ephesians 6:10-17

The Lord will go before you; the God of Israel will be your rear guard. – Isaiah 42:12

Sometimes all we can do is bow our heads and go through the circumstance…faith in action. Today, as I reached the steep incline of the bridge, I bowed my head and took it one step at a time, going through, believing in faith that I would make it to the other side.

Sometimes God requires us to go through something to change a weakness to strength, to route a dark enemy. – Beth Moore

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors. - Romans 8:37

When we’ve pressed through and thoroughly conquered the thing, there is something on the other side. Today, it was the victory of crossing the bridge…but there were more miles to go.

I had to constantly renew my mind with The Word to keep running and behave victorious. Every time I quoted the Word of God, I felt a surge of energy as I agreed with God that I could do this, I could press through the wind and the hills.

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary… - Isaiah 40:31

Crossing the second bridge to the beach a fellow runner let me know that we had about .5 mile to go…I thought, “We’re almost there, but it sure does seem farther when you are running than it ever has in the years of driving this route for a day at the beach”.

I looked to see the finish line up ahead and thought:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. – James 1:2-3

I crossed the finish line with an official time of 1 hour, 26 minutes and 10 seconds…I hoped to finish somewhere between 80 and 90 minutes, so this was right in the middle of my goal. Praise be to God for the strength and endurance to power through…and a tremendous “thank you” to the friends and family who were at the finish line cheering me through.

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