Like Forrest Gump, I just started running one day. I liked it enough that I decided to train for a half-marathon, 13.1 miles.
My training coach said a beginning runner like me ought to incorporate walking breaks into my training. He said that even seasoned runners take short walks on long runs.
But I was determined to run the event, without walking a single step. After all, these were running shoes on my feet, not walking shoes.
I ran as hard and as fast as I could. And after each training session, I would stumble off the treadmill, not at all like that energetic Forrest Gump who trotted across the country. Rather, I was a jelly-limbed Gumby, panting like a thirsty mutt and quite possibly in need of an EMT – or at least a corner in which to curl up and whimper.
And my everyday life can look a bit like that, too. On the treadmill of life, I often run to the point of exhaustion.
In this culture, accomplishments carry high value. Worldly expectations can drive us to exhaustion in our workplaces, our homes — and even in our churches.
The world assigns value in the numbers: bank balances, sales figures, Facebook friends.
In the workplace, we ask ourselves: Did I exceed my monthly sales goal?
At home, we ask: How many items did I cross off the to-do list today?
In church, we ask: How many attended worship today?
On the treadmill of life, we seek worth in how fast and how far we can go. When we chase after numbers, we fail to find true rest in a Person of incalculable worth.
God didn’t intend this kind of racing life for us. He is the originator of rest. He built rest into his Creation plan and gave it a name: the Sabbath.
But, some days, I race right through my Sabbath, too, as if I were wearing running shoes instead of high heels. On many Sunday nights, I fall in a heap, weary from duties at church and home.
Some Sabbath, eh?
Like my training coach, Jesus is calling me to slow down. He wants me to walk with Him. This life is not a race for the finish line; it’s a journey.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
Even Jesus needed a breather from the fast-paced race of humanity. In Mark 6:31, Jesus told his disciples to come with him to a quiet place and get some rest. I am trying to do the same in my own home.
Last year, I created my own “quiet place” at the busiest intersection of my home, right where the living room meets the kitchen. This sacred space includes my prayer chair, prayer shawl, Bible, a candle, journals and devotional books. When life goes into overdrive, Jesus beckons me to be still.
I apply the brakes and rest in Him. I light a candle, open His word, and — even if for only a few minutes — I stop running and simply walk with Jesus.
As it turns out, walking has made me a better runner – both in life and on the treadmill. I need moments to catch my breath.
As I began to incorporate short walks during my training, my overall performance improved. I actually enjoyed completing two half-marathons last year. (Yes, I said “enjoyed.”)
And in life, too, the best way to cross the finish line is having slowed enough along the way to enjoy the trip – rather than zipping through life chasing the wind.
Lord, Help us rest in You. Let us not hurry so quickly through this life that we forget to enjoy the journey Home. Amen.