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Lessons in life from a 5k

Over the last few months, my wife Elizabeth has begun a running program in an effort to get healthy and lose weight. I have just recently followed suit, as she gets me up at 5 a.m. almost daily whether I participate or not. However, since she began the program a good three months ahead of me, she is, obviously, further along her running destiny. Add the fact that she loves to run and I hate the very thought of it, and its  match made in heaven!

In seriousness, though, over the last few months my wonderful wife has worked extremely hard at accomplishing her goals, and made tremendous progress. Today was a milestone along the way, as she completed her first ever 5k run. It just so happened that the run benefits autism awareness and research, but that's really beside the point. For weeks she's put in a great deal of work, rain or shine, in transforming herself back into the runner that she was in ROTC as a high school student. It has given her a new joy and energy, as she feels better and is becoming healthier again.

Really, she is my motivation for having begun the program just two weeks ago. I admit that its harder for me because I do hate running, and I am slightly heavier that the average person-running when overweight can be hard on the joints- but I am inspired by her effort and dedication, as well as the results that are evident.

That got me thinking about how we are the temple of God. In the Old Testament, and under the Mosaic covenant, God resided in a physical building called the temple (or tabernacle, before the temple was built). But under the new covenant that we have, He makes his abode in us. The Bible tells us that as a believer we are the temple of God. In Romans 12 Paul even goes so far as to tell us to 'present our body as a living sacrifice...'

If we are the place where God makes His home, then really we need to consider the way we maintain our lives. If we appear as slobs and as if we don't care about ourselves, then whatever level of devotion we have to the Lord will be in proportion. To say that we're striving to serve Him and not bothering to take care of the very place He resides is really contrary.

Furthermore, as I think through the process my wife has undertaken and which I am currently beginning, it reminds me a great deal of our lives as believers. We don't ever start out fully formed and developed into what God wants us to be. Ephesians 2:10 says:
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus...
Workmanship speaks of a process. Just as Elizabeth didn't get up one day and start running 5k's. She got up and started walking, then jogging some, then jogging more...and over time has developed her stamina, lung capacity, and toned her leg muscles through the training that she's done. I am still in that walking stage, with a little light jogging that sometimes makes me think the world is ending!

You can see the comparison, though. Our spiritual lives need to be developed. We have to put forth the effort through study, prayer, service and fellowship. If we don't go through the process then we can wait all we want to become the mighty spiritual warriors we are supposed to be...and life will pass us by and we'll think and talk about how we got slighted, how we were dealt a bad hand, and how life isn't fair. When in reality, we never got off the couch and got moving.

So there are spiritual and physical implications of what this process does. After all, bodily exercise does profit us. It helps us stay healthy so that we can stay sharp and focused and serve God fully without wearing out or breaking down. But its also a metaphor, if you will, for how our spiritual lives should look. My wife's ultimate goal (at the moment) is to complete a half marathon. She's not there yet, not even close. If she tired that today I might be having her funeral tomorrow. Her heart, lungs and body have come a long way from where she was, but they aren't to that level yet.

Does that mean she throws in the towel and quits? not at all. She keeps going. She looks at the victory shes just had in finishing her 5k today, and looks at whats next. Like David saw the giant and remembered the lion and the bear. Where we are may not be where we need to be, but as long as we keep going, we know that we'll get there. After all, God is a master craftsmen. I seriously doubt He'll fail to form us into the vessel He desires us to become, so long as we play our part in the process, and don't give up.

That's the lesson here. My wife and I both could have looked at our lives and our state of health and thought 'well, this is where we are. We'll just have to take medicine and hope for the best.' We could have been defeated even before we started. She could have looked at the goal of a half marathon and even a 5k and said 'that's never going to happen.' But she didn't, because she understands that nothing is impossible with God, naturally or spiritually. And look where she is now, having just finished a race that even 6 months ago, she couldn't have done.

I'm a little proud of her, sure. For running the race. For finishing the race. And most importantly, for reminding me that as a temple of the Lord, if I want to be spiritually effective in my life and ministry,  first I have to be around and second, I can't just wait for things to happen...I have to do my part.

Thanks Eli. I needed that.


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