13.1 miles. A half marathon. The race I felt God calling me to run freshmen year. I had faced intense, life-changing decisions and felt God calling me to sign up for the Nashville Music City Half Marathon. Ultimately, that half marathon became a physical representation of the spiritual training God desired for me to go through that year. I ran cross country in high school, but I had never run over 5 miles, certainly not 13.1. I trained for about 4 months, and April 25th came: Race day. I remember running the race and soaking everything in: the beautiful blue skies with white clouds, the spectators with encouraging signs and cheers, and the AMAZING refreshment stations with oranges. Those oranges tasted like they were straight from Florida… Delicious. But one of the things I remember the most was mile 10.
Dear goodness. Mile 10. At mile 3, I definitely could handle it. My high school races were 3.1 miles, so that was easy-peasy. At mile 6, my endorphins were still going, so my stride was strong. Then there was mile 10. My left foot had gone numb from my shoelaces being too tight, my body felt like a broken doll, and my brain lost all encouraging thoughts. Everything inside of me told me to stop, to rest, and to pick it back up later. However, I knew that if I stopped to walk,I wouldn’t accomplish my goal of running the 13.1 miles non-stop. My brain wanted to say no, and my body would follow gladly. I faced a crucial decision point that would impact whether I would complete what God called me to complete. After a few more steps, I finally chose to adjust my shoelaces quickly and keep the same pace so I could continue. Everything inside of me said no, but God said yes. Yes, you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Yes, you can do what I have called you to do. Yes, you can finish strong despite your weakness.
Currently, I’m at a “mile 10.” We recently started an audit at work so I’ve increased my workload to 50+ hours while still maintaining my busy schedule with small groups, part-time ministry school, and mentoring…Somehow still finding time to clean the house and buy groceries. I came home this weekend EXHAUSTED. However, I’m reminded that this is mile 10. I’m so close to finishing. And I can bet I’m not the only one at mile 10…
When we find ourselves facing mile 10, we must remind ourselves of the race God has called us to run (Hebrews 12:1-3). Below are some tangible ways for us to endure through and successfully embrace the race God’s placed before us.
Align yourself with cheerleaders.
When I ran my half marathon, there were multiple points where I wanted to start walking. However, the spectators on the roadside would cheer us on, and I would find a reason to continue. God has placed people in your life specifically for the purpose of encouraging you and supporting you in the situations you’re facing. Listen to their encouragement and let their prayers fuel your passion.
But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. – Exodus 17:12
Remind yourself how your accomplishment will give hope to those around you. Once I finished my half-marathon, both my brothers and my boyfriend (at the time) were inspired to run races. My 24-year-old brother has run 2 half marathons, my 11-year-old brother has run multiple fun runs, and my husband even has run a few 5ks because of that race. My pursuit unknowingly birthed a passion inside them as well. You may not realize it at the time, but some of your spectators will eventually become participators.
Envision the finish line.
No matter the way you feel, keep being faithful where you are and with what you’re doing. Remind yourself of how much you’ve completed in comparison to what you have remaining. It’s easy for us to focus on what is yet to be done, to become overwhelmed by our circumstances and succumb to our feelings. However, when we remind ourselves that we’re over halfway through a commitment, success becomes reachable. If we have gone 10 miles, we can go another 3.
In high school our coach told us to envision the course we would run: the hills, the spectators, the finish line and especially the time clock as we finished the race! Did you know that envisioning success actually increases an athlete’s ability to succeed? Keep your eyes focused on the path in front of you, and keep your eyes away from any distractions that will deviate your focus. What does your finish line look like?Why are you doing what you’re doing? Keep pressing through the inconvenience and healthy pain, because that’s the way that you’ll obtain victory.
Remember your training.
When we are in the moment of mile 10, we need to remember God has called us to this. He has prepared us for these moments. A coach knows our strengths, our weaknesses, and certainly our limitations. Likewise, God knows our abilities. God would not call us to do something if He did not give us the ability to complete it. While walking on water, Jesus called Peter into the waves. Jesus would not have called Peter out on the water if Peter was incapable of walking. Ultimately, God desires to use our mile 10 to stretch our faith and allow others to worship Him through our faith.
Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” – Matthew 14:33
Keep pressing on and run the race of endurance. Finish strong!