Eyes on the Prize

 

running medalSome days it's hard to get up and run. I mean really hard.
 
Like Monday. I'm still recovering from the time change and there was precipitation, almost enough to be classified as a drizzle. (I don't run in the rain.) But I have a race in two weeks. So I ran, and I made my race distance.
 
Then came Tuesday. The temperature dropped down into the thirties. The bed was warm. I was tired. I could take Tuesday as my day off instead of Wednesday… But I have a race in two weeks. So I got up and ran the race distance again, a little faster this time.
 
I guarantee you, if there was not a race coming up, I would have reset my alarm and gone back to sleep. The goal, the prize changes everything.
 
Paul says in 1 Corinthians, "Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 
All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 
So I run with purpose in every step." (9:24-26a).
 
It's so easy to lose sight of that prize and focus on the immediate things around us. It doesn't seem to matter if they are comforts (like a warm bed) or challenges (It's raining and I'm tired), they are equally distracting. However, when we focus on the goal, the prize, the eternal prize, we are much more likely to keep running.
 
Do you lose sight of the goal sometimes? What helps you refocus?

Run, Don’t Perform

 

I'm better runner than racer, which isn't saying much, but it is what it is. Last month, after carefully stretching and babying my knee, I signed up for a 5K. My previous best had been 35:19. (Not that great, I know.) For this race, my goal was to finish in under 35 minutes. Nothing too dramatic, but it would mean pushing my knee just a bit. So the night before the race I did the math and knew I needed to run better than 11:17 each mile to meet that goal. 
 
Race day came and off we went. At mile 1, I checked my watch. Twelve minutes. Twelve. I would have to run well under eleven minutes for the next two miles to hit my goal. That's too fast. Crud. It was tempting… really tempting… to get monumentally discouraged at that point, and quit trying. My knee hurt. That's a legitimate reason (excuse) for a poor outing, right? But my son was running. And my husband. So I took a big deep breath and decided my new goal was to finish without walking, a good enough goal for the bad knee. The pressure was off. I ran relaxed.
 
Here's the thing. I finished the whole race in under 34 minutes. Almost a minute and a half faster than my best outing. My last two miles were under 10:30. I never run that fast. Never.
 
So what happened?
 
I stopped worrying about my performance and concentrated on finishing. I stopped measuring myself against external metrics and just ran the race laid out before me.
 
You can see the application, can't you? So many times I get caught up meeting artificial goals or performance indicators that I forget to just run. When I look around and decide where I should be in my Christian life at a given time and I don't make that, I get really discouraged. Jesus never put those demands on me. He never calls on me to compare myself to others or to a man-made standard.
 
The idea of performing or measuring to win or keep God's favor is contrary to the reality of His grace. Because Jesus Christ shed His blood on my behalf, I can run relaxed. The pressure's off. The victory is won. I just have to run the race laid out in front of me.
 
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 The Message

Halftime 2010

RunningIt's halftime! 

July 1st. The year is halfway over. In a football or basketball game, halftime is an opportunity to evaluate the gameplan and make adjustments as needed. I entered 2010 with some goals in mind. So far, one of them is in the bag (yay!) and one is out of my hands at the moment (sigh!). That leaves running and losing those accursed ten pounds. Let's talk about running.

Progress is slow, but it's measurable.

I love that! Definable, measurable progress. This morning, I ran a lap around our neighborhood park. Then I walked a half lap. Then I ran another lap! Last year, the best I EVER did was to run 1 lap. And I only did that one time. My goal was to run two miles. This week, I've run two miles a couple of days in a row. Still with walking in between, but there is progress.

Progress is painful.

I hurt every day after I run. Granted that may be because I'm 40-something. I prefer to think it's because I'm pushing a little harder, trying a little more each day.

Progress means re-evaluation.

Can I still make the two miles? I think so. October was my goal. Depending on how things go, I may consider stretching that to 3 miles or 5K.

It no different in my walk with God. I need an honest look at my relationship with Him. Then once I see where I am, I need to listen to His suggestions of where I should be. Then I need the discipline to work steadily at achieving that. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit will take care of the hard stuff, but I have to be available for Him to work on. He won't drag me across the finish line of Christlikeness.

What about you? What were your goals? How are you doing on them?

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Study tip: Set a goal

How does goal-setting help your study time?CB047269

It gives you focus. While you may get some benefit wandering through the Scriptural landscape, your study time will be more productive if it’s directed. This year, I’m reading the New Testament, just a chapter a day, but I think I should make it through three times.

It gives you purpose. I’m a big fan of those serendipitous ‘lightbulb’/hidden treasure moments, but you’ll be a more active, engaged reader if you’re looking for something. And believe me, it won’t interfere with discovery at all. I want to see Jesus more clearly and soak in what I have because of Him.

It will keep you motivated. Nobody wants to spend time doing something ‘just because’. But if I have a clear goal in mind, the effort comes much easier. I want a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, and spending time with Him in His word is one way I’m working to achieve that.

What goals have you set for your study time? Increasing it? A particular topic or study? A reading plan?

Goal-setting

Happy New Year! I wish you a healthy, fulfilling 2010.j0439558

I am very much a creature of scheduled habit. I hate surprises and I prefer things to go off the way I expect in the time frame I have reserved for them. (Now, I'm not so stiff that I can't adapt to changes. I just prefer things that way. You understand.)

The last few months, it's been a challenge getting my posts up each day. So much so, that I missed quite a few. I had added a morning run during the summer and the return to homeschooling threw off that schedule of mine. I was running during my study time, so then I was studying during my blogging time. The blog didn't get done.

This morning, I read Psalm 119:112  I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes forever, to the very end. (NKJV) In the CEV, it reads I have made up my mind to obey your laws forever, no matter what. See that resolve, that commitment! I always find time to do those things I am totally committed to.

The question is, what will those things be?

That's my project for today- determining where I should spend my time and energy. God has a plan for this upcoming year so my first test is making sure my goals are inline with His.

  • I have to watch out for my health and I have to take care of the ones He's entrusted to me.
  • I want my marriage to thrive.
  • I have responsibilities managing the household. I've taken on obligations, like doing science with the grade schoolers and various church offices each with duties associated with it.
  • Then there's writing. It is truly the most fun, most challenging, most gratifying thing I have ever worked at.

I will be prayerfully considering each of those areas. What am I doing right? Where do I need to make changes? What needs to go completely? Is there something I should add? Jon is working on something similar right now. He's finding he'd really like to have a business, and he's got a few ideas. He's also really like to be teaching on marriage and family. Maybe that's the direction God has for us and my goals will start coming in line with that. I'll let you know. What about you? Where do you spend most of your time and energy? What goals and dreams do you have?