Learning to Run
I have been running recently. Its a great way to get fit. The thing that I have learned most about running in the months that I have been doing it, is that it is both the most natural thing in the world for a human to do but that it is also something that I need to learn to do. Sounds like a contradiction right?
Let me explain. When we are born we have a natural ability to run. Little kids start running the moment they start walking. Just picture a little kid learning to walk. As they get up and start to stand on their own, they generally lean forward and the shuffle becomes a walk and the walk becomes a run as they struggle to stay on their feet. Once they are walking, running just happens. It’s not something that we have to be taught to do. It’s natural.
But as we grow older we become less active (okay maybe that’s just me.) When we want to run to get fit, we need to learn how to do it properly, if we are going to endure the stress and strain it puts on our body. You see somewhere between the natural freedom of a little kid and the older person, we lose strength, posture, form and correct breathing. It’s these things that we need to learn or learn about.
When I started running I thought that the only thing I needed was a good pair of shoes. While that is part of it, to endure at the sport, which I want to do, I need to be more efficient in how I run. This means getting things like my posture right. And recently I have found out that it even means being more aware of my breathing. I know that sounds obvious! The reality is that the more oxygen you can get into your body the better you will run. Breathing for running and walking is like changing gears on a bicycle. You can gears on a bike when you want and need help with the terrain you are encountering. For instance when you are going up a hill and you will be exerting more effort, you change into a lower gear to help you do it with less effort. Not to take advantage of this would be silly.
Breathing in running and even walking is that same. The amount of breathes you take per stride or step is like changing gears. The more effort you need to exert, the more breaths you take per stride or step. While we all do this sub consciously, learning to do this efficiently takes a discipline and focus I don’t always have.
What I like most about running is that I can get to a place where I am on autopilot. I put my music on and I am able to switch off. But to endure it and get better at it, means I need more discipline and focus than simply falling out of bed in the morning and slapping on my running shoes. There are things to learn and put into practice.
It’s the same with faith. Hold on, let me define what I mean by faith. Faith is simply a relationship with God that I am able to have because of who Jesus is and what he did. A very simply definition, but all we need for now.
The thing is faith is both the most natural thing in the world to human being and something we need to learn to do. If we are going to endure through life with our faith we need the correct discipline. “We need the correct form, posture and breathing.” It’s easy to believe but enduring takes work.
Maybe that’s what Paul had in mind when he wrote these words,
“Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly. I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.” 1 Cor 9:26
There is real beauty as you watch a child running freely, arms flailing around in the air, simply running for the love it.
There is a real beauty in taking those first steps of faith. I simply loving Jesus.
There is however real beauty in seeing an athlete in full stride, who has through discipline and focus learned to run with effective strides and is able to simply endure.
The same is true of faith. Beauty in our relationship with Jesus is both the freedom of doing what come naturally and enduring because we have had the discipline and focus to learn how to.