Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunrise Over the Palm Trees (Part 1)

During my sophomore year of college at Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ) I would get up almost every morning between 5:00 and 5:30 and ride my bike over to the track where I would join the other morning joggers. I am very much a morning person, but this is not the reason I would run so early in the day.

It was just too freakin' hot once the sun came up!

For those of you who run or jog long distance, you are going to understand the feeling I am about to describe. In runner's terms, it's called "hitting the wall."

And that's exactly what it feels like!

I would hit that wall at about the 5th mile every time. Everything in my body wanted to shut down. My lungs didn't want to breathe; my legs didn't want to move; and my mind kept screaming, "Quit! Quit! Quit!"

This painful testing of my body continued through the entire next mile. With every step, I would think, "Why am I doing this? This can't be good for me? Oh, man this hurts. I need to spit."

It always felt as though that mile would never end.

But, suddenly, without fail, that feeling would change.

The breaking through of that wall always came and with it also came a sense of release. What before felt torturous now felt rhythmic. What before felt choppy now felt fluid. What before felt held back now felt free. My stride and pace picked up. My posture was straighter and my mind was clear.

Life is much like jogging long distances. Walls are inevitable.

In the Bible, the apostle Paul refers to running a race frequently through his letters. 2 Timothy4:7 "I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith." 1 Corinthians 9:24 "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." Galatians 5:7 "You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?" Many believe Paul also wrote the book of Hebrews, but whether he did or not we are given another example of long distance running when the writers tells us in 12:1 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

I use Paul's words today because they are from my belief system and they speak to me. Whatever your belief system may be, I encourage you to find the words that speak to you.

Every one of us, no matter what our circumstances or situation in life, hit walls that we need to break through. Whether it be a wall called weight, a wall called finances, a wall called personality conflicts with a co-worker, a wall called I need a job, a wall called my child doesn't want to pee in the toilet, a wall called I have talent and need a good agent, a wall called my body hurts from sickness, or a wall called fill in the blank I'm your new wall, we all hit walls in our life.

What I love so much about Apostle Paul's words are his emphasis on the 6th mile instead of the 5th.

Paul understood the power of the breakthrough. Paul understood the power of endurance, patience, and perseverance. He understood the power of these unseen forces to break through walls.

Perseverance is not needed for a 100 yard dash, but it is needed for cross country or a marathon.

The breaking through a wall does not come by giving it all you've got for 100 yards and then stopping. It does not come by quitting at the 5th mile when things get tough.

Breakthrough comes by the power of consistency. Consistently moving forward. Consistently using patience and perseverance. Consistently enduring under pressure to quit. Consistently silencing the negative thoughts. Consistently feeding that which is inside of you that you want to be stronger.

Endurance, patience, and perseverance are forces that can break walls, move mountains, and change paradigms.

Perseverance means to persist in spite of difficulties. At the track, I persevered through the 5th mile even though both my mind and my body were yelling at me to quit. I could not see or hear perseverance or patience working and I most certainly could not "feel" them working, but they were.

As any long distance runner will tell you, testing of the mind and the body WILL come.

I encourage you to run with perseverance the race marked out for you. Your life has a purpose. Don't quit. Don't give up. Be consistent in moving forward.

If you have a dream and it feels like you've been running the 5th mile for a long time, don't quit. Don't give up. Be consistent in moving forward no matter how small or insignificant the steps you are taking may feel. Patience and perseverance are working for you. Don't stop their power because you feel tired or weary or rejected or alone.

Circumstances won't change the power of patience and perseverance, but power patience and perseverance will change the circumstances.

Keep running your race!

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