Monday, September 12, 2011

Running vs. Walking

I just have to say that this past week has been amazing running-wise. Lower temperatures usually equal faster times, and they certainly have for me. Last week, me and my running buddy (I need a good nickname for her...) clocked a SUPER fast 15-miler, and there had been almost nothing different than what we'd done the previous week other than the temperature, which was 20 degrees lower. It's amazing what a difference it makes when you aren't fighting heat and humidity! Praise God for fall! :)

I tell you what...One of the most amazing feelings in the world is teaming up with God to embrace and maximize the physical strength He provides, and that can happen in so many different forms. For me, it's distance running. I love being able to run at a relatively fast pace for miles and miles. :) When you team up with God on those long runs and pray through it with Him, you learn so much about His power and how true it is that it's made perfect in our weakness. (See 2 Corinthians 12:9.)

As part of my morning times with the Lord, I've started going through a new devotion book for runners. Last week, it posed an interesting question about the difference between walking and running when used in spiritual terms. Great question! I've thought a lot about that this week and have come to an opinion (no surprise there, haha!).

At first, it seemed like the obvious answer was that it was always better to "run." To run hard and fast in the faith like Paul said in the Message version of 1 Timothy 6. To run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12). To run in the path of God's commands (Psalm 119). To run/flee from evil (2 Timothy 2).

But the most interesting thing started to happen when I thought about always running. I got exhausted just sitting there! haha! I could feel my pulse start to race a little bit. Run, run, run! Run everywhere! Run from this! Run from that! Run to God! Go, go, go! And, I had to literally tell myself, "Whoa." haha!

So, I stopped (literally, I stopped running circles in my head.), and I started thinking about just walking. How nice it is just to walk sometimes and not be in a hurry. How I love to take walks on Sunday afternoons when it's my off-day from running. How I love to take walks in the mornings after a long run whenever I can. How I love just walking anywhere with my Mighty Man while he's holding my hand and we're just talking. Truly, walking is remarkable in many different ways.

Walking implies peace and tranquility in a way that running doesn't. Yes, running can be very peaceful and tranquil, but that's not generally the core purpose. To me, running is a way to engage with God and allow Him to strengthen me through a challenge. I know that it's an activity that will require a great amount of energy for a short period of time. (Short, relatively speaking.) Everything about the activity requires boldness, courage and strength, even getting ready to run. That's often the toughest part mentally, actually. Running is simply an all-around energetic activity.

When it comes to walking, though, there's a different mentality. Now, obviously I'm not talking about walking for exercise. I'm talking about walking in the "stroll" sense of the word.

When you go for a walk, it's about rest. It doesn't require much mental energy to slip into a pair of flip flops and go out for a stroll. It's all about peace and rest. No times to beat, no cares about proper hydration, no mileage to mark. Just chillin and enjoying the activity, either with someone physically or with God by yourself.

Ah, I love walking. :)

Ah, I love running. :)

So, I came to the conclusion that they are both dynamic aspects of our faith. There's a time for both and God uses each in very different ways. There are times when we need to run--to run to God, to run from evil, to run a race of activity. There is time for that, and God will use it to show His strength in us as He provides the energy and power to persevere.

Then, there are times to walk--to walk slowly with Him and enjoy His presence in a restful mentality. To walk with others through whatever trial they are experiencing. To walk out a long-term journey. To simply walk for joy in the company of the Lord, enjoying the world He has given us. I believe He uses those times to refresh us and to remind us of His peace.

It's funny how in our driven society we automatically jump to the conclusion that faster is always better. But I'm so glad that the devotion book posed that question. It gave me another reminder that there is a time for fast and a time for slow. There is a time for powerful strength and a time for restful refreshment. We just need to seek the Lord and find His balance between the two. Too much or too little of either won't be ideal, but when we stay in "step" with the Spirit, we can trust that He'll lead us to walk or run at the proper time and with the proper pace. :)

Hugs to you all!!

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