Reflections on running and the Christian life

trevor and tito 5k finish
Most people I know HATE running and, frankly, I don’t blame them. In fact, in a recent conversation with a good friend who is an avid runner, he told one of my sons that the only part of running he likes is the finish line. Running is hard, tiring, and most of the time not all that exciting. Sure there are moments of runner’s euphoria and scenic views but most of the time involves just keeping one’s focus on reaching the goal ahead.

However, over the last few years, I have come to realize that running does have a few indirect spiritual benefits for me.

Running mirrors the Christian life in many ways.

  • I often feel great when I start out and think to myself that today’s run is going to be an effortless joy.
  • But, a couple miles in and my legs begin to get heavy and each hill looks more daunting than the last. The important thing at this point is the same as in moments like this in my walk with Christ, keep focused on the goal ahead and on the reward that comes with finishing well.
    • Hebrews 12:1-2 often comes to mind, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
  • Eventually, after periods of great joy and delight as well as difficulty and temptation to give up I see the finish line up ahead. It is a great feeling to make it to the finish knowing that I never gave up and that I battled through all the difficulty and temptation to quit.
    • Paul’s words to Timothy come to mind, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Running is a great time to meditate on Scripture and direct my heart toward God.
I always listen to music when I run and every song I have on my playlist is one that exalts Christ. In fact many of the songs are Scriptures set to music – mostly Seeds Family Worship songs. Therefore, much of my time running is spent on reflecting on the glory,  majesty, grace and love of Jesus.

Running gives me much needed time to think and pray.
Getting some time away to think and pray is priceless. When I am running I am often thinking about texts or topics I am working on to teach, ministry situations, often times my best ideas come while running, I am able to evaluate important aspects of my life like how I am doing as a husband, father, sins I may be struggling with, etc. As I think trough different topics I usually pray about/for them as well.

Running provides great opportunity for fellowship and friendship.
Some of my best and strongest relationships have been forged through running with brothers in Christ. It is a great opportunity to talk about life, family, Jesus, prayer requests, our walk with the Lord, etc. In fact, running with my sons has provided a great time to talk and pour into them away from all the other distractions that surround us. Therefore, I will gladly pay the race fee for a 5K they want to run simply for the hours we will spend training together engaging in meaningful conversations that just don’t seem to happen as naturally anywhere else.

I am sure I could come up with several more spiritual benefits I have received from my time running but these are probably the most noteworthy. It is important to note, however, that these benefits can never outweigh or replace the necessity of focused time in God’s Word, fellowship within the context of a local church and times of stillness before the Lord in prayer. It is just as Paul wrote, “Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8).

2 thoughts on “Reflections on running and the Christian life

  1. You may find this hard to believe, Trevor, but I was a runner for a lot of years and actually ran 7 marathons in various parts of the country. I started running the day after my Mother passed away. I never listened to music,. I just loved to meditate, talk to God, and talk to my Mom. I logged a lot of miles, and I have to say I really miss it. My knees won’t allow me to run anymore but I still enjoy a brisk walk.

    • Thanks for the great comment Beth. That will actually prompt me to pray for you while I run now :). I will make it out to farmers one of these days to see you. Ill let you know before I come out. Thank for keeping up with us!

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