When injury strikes
As you surely know by now, I am a runner. Running is one of my favorite things to do in my life. I feel like running nourishes my mind, body and soul. I understand it’s not for everyone, but for me running helps balance and clear my mind, it keeps my body in good health, and my amazing friend, who doubles as a running partner and I have the absolute best conversations during our runs, which feeds my soul.
Unfortunately however, the more miles you run, the greater your risk of injury. What I have found is that it’s best to do what is necessary to avoid the injury all together, rather than work your way back after an injury. Last year, I suffered a leg injury that I initially tried to ignore and continued to run on for three weeks. Finally, during one of our runs, I came to a complete stop. That was it. Time to see a doctor. Sure enough, I had a fracture in my femur! Had I continued to run on it through the pain, I could have done damage that wouldn’t have been so easily fixed. As it was, I had to be down for six weeks.
Coming back from the injury, I have made sure to put a lot more emphasis on stretching, resistance training, chiropractic care, hydration, proper rest periods, and above all else… listening to my body when it warns me. But I love running SO much that it is worth the effort! Today, I was thinking about this process and how much it parallels our faith walk. I love the scripture in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, where Paul uses the analogy of running a race.
In order to complete the race in front of us with the Lord, there are certain things we must do to keep ourselves “injury free”... as much as we can help it. We must be ever prepared with the word of God to seek out His wisdom when our bodies warn us that something is “off.” There are literally scriptures for ANY and EVERY life situation that can arise. The question is, do we actively seek the counsel of our Creator in all circumstances?
We must also have a plan for how to keep ourselves from growing weary or tiring out. Does living a life following Jesus Christ make you feel exhausted? Do you ever feel like you just need a Sunday off from church or one day with no reading the Bible or worshiping with music, etc? If you feel spiritually exhausted, your body is warning you that you are missing a key element or nutrient. Will we listen to our bodies' warnings or continue to operate with this “break” somewhere in our spirit? Operating broken will not make the situation go away. In fact, it will eventually hobble us and possibly cause us to quit the race all together. The scripture in 1 Corinthians reminds us that this race isn’t for a medal, this race means our lives! We are racing for a crown that will last forever!
We must be sure to incorporate all of the elements required to make it to the finish: Prayer. Worship. Fellowship. Study of the Bible. Quiet time to listen to the Lord. Hating what is evil; Loving what is good. Sharing the gospel with others.
If we don’t maintain balance in our daily lives, we are sure to putter out before we get to the finish. The good news is this: Maintaining this balance actually gives us a better quality of life right now, in our every day as well.
But, when we do find ourselves “injured,” how do we come back from that? Well, with a physical injury, we see a doctor or specialist right? I find that with a spiritual injury, it is important to seek the Lord and at times perhaps the counsel of someone who is strong in the faith, who can give you advice and encouragement. There is always someone - even if you seek the advice of your Pastor, a leader at church or a Christian counselor.
Earlier I mentioned that I love running so much, it is worth the extra effort it takes to keep my body healthy enough to run for many years to come. Most of us have a love for something that requires effort or our time or a bit of dedication to accomplish. The question we want to consider then is this: Do we love God enough, that He is worth the extra effort in our lives to finish the race well? I hope we all run the race to the finish and one day hear from the Lord, “Well done, good and faithful one.” What a glorious day and eternity that will be! (Matthew 25:21, 23)
I hope to see you at the finish!! Stay encouraged.