The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win.~Roger Bannister
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. James 1:2
I’m up at 3:30 am writing this blog, talk about pain. I guess it was important for this blog to be written if the Holy Spirit gets me out of bed to write it. I touched on pain last week a little bit, this week it is our focus. Christine Caine says in her book Run to Win that there are four types of pain we have to endure as marathon runners, they are enlarge, stretch, lengthen and strengthen. I want to add a fifth and that is the pain of injury. Injury involves all of the above four pains, but is another type of pain we all must endure as marathon runners in the Christian life.
Enlarge involves allowing God to increase our view of Him and see how big he really is. Christine puts it as how marathon runners have to enlarge their muscles to handle the large load that is used in the 26.2-mile run. You can’t be on wimpy legs to be able to handle that and so you have to lift weights, and train by increasing your distance every so often to get to the distance required to finish a marathon. Sometimes as we enlarge our perspective of God we see ourselves the way God sees us, but we also have to deal with what we see presently in ourselves and that can be a very painful experience. As I began to learn to run, I had to overcome the fear that was so instilled in me at a younger age. It was a month long process to overcome that fear, but I did it every day in learning to run for just a straight 30 minutes.
Stretch pain can be either gloriously enjoyable or it can be major torcher. As a marathon runner if you want to avoid some major setbacks you must stretch before and after the training run. If you don’t you can find injury beckoning at your door. A newer thought in runner training in the last few years is dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching involves bringing your blood to the joints that are going to be used in the run. You do this by moving them in certain ways. For example to get blood to the hip flexor you have to do a twisting type motion with your body to get those joints the warm blood they need to perform well in the run. In our Christian marathon, we have to stretch dynamically to bring life to our situation or life to another’s saturation.
Lengthen involves getting your muscles lengthened for the long run. If you are not flexible, you can’t achieve the power needed to get to the finish line. You can’t get the fluid motion needed to keep the running motion going. Christine puts it as pressing on and keeping yourself on the road even though it can be a painful experience. Someone once said, “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.” It’s funny but so true.
Strengthen is the last pain that Christine talks about. If we don’t have the strength in the muscle groups in our preparation, then we will fall out of the race. Strength conditioning involves a great deal of pain, but it also builds your muscles and strengthens your connective tissue as well as hardens your bones. Resistance training is so important for the runner. As the above verse says, count all the heartache you have to endure as joy, because it gives you strength when you need it and endurance. You know you are on the right track when resistance is part of your life.
The final pain that I added is the pain of injury. Let’s be honest here, the greatest pain faced by a marathon runner is not being able to complete the race. You will be injured and it will be very painful, physical, mental, and spiritual. Injury is not fun; it slows our forward momentum if we allow it. By injury in the Christian marathon, I am taking about failure. Many Christians fall out of the race because of failure. Failure is only failure when we just give up. I was reminded in a recent message by a visiting Pastor that God is not the God of second chances; He is the God of unlimited chances. I have this dream of being a personal trainer one day. I tried the home study method a couple of years ago and gave up trying because I just could not study that way. Then God gave me the right opportunity that I am more suited for to do it in a classroom setting. Even though I made it my goal a few years ago, I never gave up on it completely. I just waited patiently for the right opportunity to present itself and it did. Injury involves enlarging our view of God so that you know God is before you, behind you, beside you. You have to stretch yourself out of the comfort zone and be uncomfortable to overcome the injury. You may have to lengthen yourself to go the extra mile to overcome the injury. Finally, God will strengthen your resolve once you get yourself back on the training regime that made you successful before. He will add the things you were missing before, after all that is what growth is all about and we will have growing pains, but understand one thing, God is going to overcome everything if we put ourselves in the correct position and not give up or give in when trouble reveals its ugly head.
© [David Howard], [David’s Body Temple], 2011-2015.