Monday, January 20, 2014

A Reason to Run (Part 3)

Because it is the one place I learn to
 hold on to hope

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12

When my boys were extra small and my excess baby weight was tenaciously sticking to my bones, my belly, and my thighs, my face, pretty much everywhere, I decided to be a little more proactive in this battle and try reclaim some of my dignity.  An old pair of tennis shoes and I spent many hours pushing my boys around in a double stroller. Walking turned into running, and running turned into leaving the boys home with dad and enjoying my new found outlet.

After several months, when my feet and knees began to bother me, I realized it was time to get some real running shoes. And when I began to understand the meaning of the “runner’s high” I decided it was time to sign up for a real race. The moment I crossed that first finish line was one of the most exciting experiences of my life. When I finished that race, and as I have completed every race since then, I feel something that I rarely get to feel: the end. It may not be the journey I was expecting or the ending that I was hoping for, but the beauty about running and racing is that my effort, my tears, and my sweat has a beginning, a life that it lives, and a final culminating finish line. Once that end is reached, a check is marked, an evaluation is greeted, cheers and “you go girl!” are gladly heard, and shiny metals are hung around my neck. The finish line is a moment of triumph, reward, and completeness.  It is he moment in which hope is sealed. In racing I set a goal, I work for it, I run the race, I get a reward.

In real life I don’t have the luxury of a finish line where I’m given a banana and yogurt as I chat with fellow runners about a race that I ran well (or  not so well). In real life, especially in the one I live now of wife and mother, I don’t get to take off my running shoes and set a new goal before I put them back on. I don’t get a certificate of completion or a shiny metal because I have successfully completed training and educating my children, or because my marriage has finally reached perfection. This seemingly eternal race is exhausting and the finish line is never within sight, I guess it never will be this side of heaven. Sometimes I just need to see the end.

As human beings we crave completion and closure. We long to see a final product, the token of our hard work. We want to know that what we do maters.

But so much of our life is lived in hope deferred, and hope differed is hard and it hurts. In the race of life our hearts grow sick. I believe that this is why the Old Testament was packed with reminders of the promise of the coming of Christ, their hope. And the New Testament continually cheers us on with the promise of Christ’s return, our hope. Don’t lose hope; we are told over and over again.

So, in the meantime, I live my life and hang on tightly to those things that renew my hope. These peeks into heaven: a sunset that takes my breath away, forgiveness from someone I hurt, being the recipient of love that I don’t think I deserve, cooking a delicious meal that everyone loves, a pay check, a thank you for a job well done, or the finish line at the end of a tough race, are all reminders that hope is worth holding onto.

We were created complete, but sin messed that up, and now our beings long for completion, but our hope tends to falter. Running and finishing the race helps me hold onto the promise that true hope, the real finish line, is on its way; it reminds me that this race is worth training for and worth running. Thank you Lord that until that promised day we have these gifts that won’t allow our hearts to stay sick.

What gifts in your life help you hold onto hope?

In case you missed it, please join me in A Reason to Run (Part 1), and A Reason to (Run Part 2)