Why are you running? That question can be answered in many different ways. For a runner, their reason may be for their health or because they enjoy running. For a non-athlete, like myself, I run out of necessity. I jokingly mention that if anyone sees me running, they should run first and ask questions later. In life, we all have different reasons we run: To build stamina or to run away from discomfort. We would all like to admit that we are running eagerly to pursue the areas God is calling us to serve in and make an impact. The reality is that some of us know what God wants us to go towards, but because of possible discomfort or our own hesitation, we might go in another direction.
I have been studying about Jonah this month and digging deeper than the gentlemen swallowed by a big fish. When I was going to a big school interview, one of the professors jokingly called me “Jonah,” so I decided I needed to see if we were similar or not. Well, we were!
Here are some key lessons I learned from Jonah’s story:
1. Even though we know that God is with us, we can struggle with the assignment He’s given us.
2. Even though we know the risk of not following God, we sometimes opt to “take our chances.”
3. Even though we feel we can outrun God and avoid discomfort, we end up running back to Him.
It made me think of some assignments I’ve been trying to avoid:
1. I am avoiding the assignment to be a Licensed Professional Counselor(LPC).
2. I am avoiding the space God called me to reach out to women. Those who are hurting and need hope.
3. I am avoiding the grace God has given me to serve others because I want to prevent any further discomfort.
This type of running doesn’t build any spiritual muscle. It doesn’t give God the opportunity to stretch me and allow me to build greater endurance. Though running seems comfortable for a season, it will never result in the type of growth that comes from training correctly.
I love what 1 Corinthians 9:26 says, “ So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing”(NIV). Moving with purpose means that I don’t move just to say “I’m moving.” Isn’t that what society encourages us to do? As long as you are “on the move” even if it isn’t in the right direction it’s okay because you ARE moving? Moving in your own way means that while you are going somewhere, it is aimless. God is gracious and does provide course correction, but there are times we like to lean into our own understanding and miss trusting God.
I felt that I needed to share and let others know that if they find themselves like Jonah, running away from where God wants them, there is no shame or judgment. As I have been peeling back the layers to “why” I run, I am finding more freedom to face my own fears and commit to having “purpose in every step.”
Who will be helped when you stop running? How will you commit to purpose in each step you make? I would love to hear your reply!