I have a friend who is into running - she does marathons - long ones, at that! Goodness, running all those miles and doing it over and over again - it just amazes me what some people have the ability to do when they put their minds to it. Most remarkably, she is a runner with a cause - she runs her marathons in dedication to those children who suffer from leukemia. Now, we could take a lesson from my friend, couldn't we? We could learn to "run" instead of being "sedentary" - and we could learn to do it with a purpose instead of haphazardly!
I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don't want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don't want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences. (Ephesians 4:1-3 The Message)
I believe Paul had this in mind as he pens these words from his prison cell to the Ephesian church - "get out there and run". He begins with the idea of learning to "walk", but quickly turns to the idea of "running". Life is like this - a progression. We are not to remain "in place" too long - if we do, we begin to gather moss!
Look at his instruction closely and you will find some pretty awesome lessons in these three verses. First, he calls attention to the fact we are on a road we have been "called" to travel. Now, I know some of you might want to stop reading at this point, but hear me out. This road might not be the easiest, or the quickest to get us from point A to point B, but it is the one God has "called" us to travel. There is no better place to be on mission with Jesus. As you might imagine, when we are "called" there is some attention which goes into the planning of the journey we are engaged in. Think of waiting for a table at a restaurant. What is the "action" which is going on behind the scenes to ready the table for us? Isn't it the clearing away of debris and the setting out of all we will have need of in order to enjoy our meal? God is this way - when he calls, he clears away the debris which otherwise be in our way and he prepares everything we will need for the journey.
Second, he calls us to action. Too many times we are content to sit around on our hands - thinking we are unable or ill-equipped to run the race. Guess what? We are more equipped than we may ever know! Until we get off our hands, we don't realize just how much God can use them! Picture yourself sitting on your hands - or even try it right now. What happens when you are sitting on your hands? Well, you don't have freedom of movement, do you? You are restricted. You also don't have the ability to "balance" yourself too well. Let someone come over to you right now while you are sitting on your hands and see just how well you can resist the push they exert. Your first tendency is to remove your hands and steady yourself! Hands are meant for action - when they are restricted in their activity, they are not being used as they were designed. God has designed you with a purpose - let him use you as he designed!
Third, our walk is not a leisurely stroll. When you go out on an evening walk, with no destination in mind, just to get a little "stroll" in before you retire for the evening, what is your frame of mind? It might be to take in a little fresh air, enjoy some birds singing in the trees somewhere, or even to just kick a few stones along the path. You really aren't going from point A to point B, are you? You are "strolling" - a form of wandering. Paul's warning to us is to run, not stroll! When you run - there is a purpose. When you stroll - you roam - and it may not be in the right direction!
Fourth, we are to avoid the fits and starts. Lest I meddle just way too much, I will simply confess my own faults here. Whenever I set out on a certain action, I have two choices - see it through to completion, or give up along the way. Too many times I have chose the latter. I get started very well, but end up quitting just short of the goal. Ugh! How do we get to a place of being consistent in our walk? Well, for me, it is in beginning again! I might quit, but in beginning again, I am off to a whole new start. The same is true for you - beginning again is a place of new beginnings. This is the idea of the old being behind us and the new being before us. So, regardless of how many times I quit - the "starting again" is paramount to making me into a steady and consistent runner!
Last, but definitely not least, Paul points out the importance of how we run. We are to do it with humility and love. In fact, he is quick to tell us of the need for forgiveness along the path we run! We are to be quick to mend fences - why? I think it is because we do our best running when we are in the race with others! We need others to spur us on to complete the race. Maybe this is why my friend runs marathons - because she doesn't do it alone! There are others "pacing" her through to completion!
You may not be running literal marathons, but you are running the race of your life. No matter how you start - walking, running a little and walking a little, or at a full-out jog - START. For some, START AGAIN! Your only fulfilled when engaged in the mission to which you are called - so start running! You are not running "just because" - you are running for a "cause"!
For those who might like to follow Julie's page (my runner friend) in her runs for Lincoln, please see her page at http://www.facebook.com/RunningForLincoln .