Wednesday, March 24, 2021

An athlete's question for God

When I started out with God as my coach, I would sit down with a pen and paper and ask Him questions. 

This was a bit of a transition for me, because my prayer times were usually more like my talking at God than my giving Him space to speak back. But I’ve discovered that if I’m not asking God questions, I’m not creating room to hear Him. 

I had been taught how to pray from the time I was a little kid in Sunday school, so I was well versed in knowing how to talk to God, and I did listen for His voice, but the concept of asking Him specific questions and expecting to hear His answers immediately was new to me. 

Sure enough, though, when I started asking Him questions, He started answering them. And one of the first questions I asked God is, Where does strength come from? 

The answer wasn’t what I expected or even wanted to hear: rest

I had always prided myself on being a workhorse, the guy who trained harder than everyone else. My mentality was always, You may beat me, but you will not out-train me. 

But now I felt God leading me to a couple of verses that would teach me about true strength: 
• “For thus the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said, ‘In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.’ But you were not willing” (Isa. 30: 15). 
• “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep” (Ps. 127: 1–2). 

These verses were hard for me to practice. I found it much harder to trust God and train less, believing that strength comes from rest, than to train like a madman. It was a difficult lesson to learn—that resting takes tremendous confidence and courage. 

I decided to take one day off per week as a way to operate from rest, which maybe doesn’t sound like much to the everyday runner, but it was to me. I was reducing my weekly mileage by one seventh, which seemed like a huge amount. All of a sudden, running my customary 120-mile weeks became difficult to do with only six days of running, so my mileage dropped closer to a hundred miles per week. I also spaced my hard workouts out more. Instead of taking only one easy day between hard sessions, I took two, which made me question whether I was working hard enough to race as fast as I had been. 

Though it was hard initially to trust God and take more rest, it didn’t take me long to see that operating from rest was working. And once I saw the results, I became more and more confident that God was right—strength comes from rest.
Source: Run the Mile You're In by Ryan Hall

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