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So, I’m thinking I’m at least halfway now. My 45th birthday passed with very little fanfare a few days ago.  Everybody joked about it being my 25th or some other such nonsense, and I just kept thinking, “Hey now! I’ve been going 45 years straight.  That’s a good long way to run. Why would I want to pretend it’s any LESS than that?”

I did the math.  Yes I did.  I’m active, always have been, and I factored in my not walking for the first year plus some sick days.  I’ve had my fair share.

I’ve averaged 9,000 steps a day. This is actually a pretty conservative number since I’ve lived and traveled extensively overseas, always opted for the stairs and spent the last eight years walking to and through my work, which seldom affords me a seat.

I rounded down.  And best I can figure, it has still added up to no small journey.

148 million steps.

One foot in front of the other.

We are all going somewhere.  Every day we’re doing it.  Even when we don’t sense the momentum or have lost our vision, by God’s grace, we remain in motion.

Even on a sickbed we are actively engaged in this thing called living.  Sometimes I think those are the miles that have mattered most in my journey.  The ones spent running hard after God in prayer and praise and study because my feet couldn’t even hit the ground that day.

He redeems it all.

Making a hard stop on my birthday this year did something for me. It gave me a moment to count strides, and in so doing, I was pretty blown away by the distance covered.

The race marked out immediately ahead of me is steep.  It’s uphill for a good long stretch.  I don’t feel equal to the task.

I’ve been having to wrestle fear to the ground before I can even begin the climb.  This is a fresh opportunity to trust the Lord.  I can always trust fear to provide that.

I’m grateful that God has allowed me a moment’s pause at base camp to reflect on the simple truth that great things are accomplished, and races are won, one step at a time.

Praying.  Praising.  Trusting.  Pressing FORWARD.

Putting toes in the water, even if it hasn’t parted yet.

One foot in front of the other.

It’s all moving me towards Him.

“My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child He loves that He disciplines; the child He embraces, He also corrects.  God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children.     Hebrews 12: 5-7  (the Message)

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Growing up, my best friend was an avid runner.  She actually liked doing it.  This was inconceivable to me.

I abhor running.  Every. Step. Agony.

And yet for years, I ran regularly. To what end?

Vanity.

That usually got me to about the 2-mile mark.  Shallow motives never get you past the burn.  But here’s the thing.  My friend ran competitive cross-country in both high school and college. She did things casual runners never did. Like setting a pace, plotting a course, measuring her progress, keeping to a daily training schedule, and sprinting during long runs just to amp things up a little.  She did these things because she had a goal in mind.  And unlike me, she was training to win.

She ran, I worked out.  We both watched every calorie.  Truth be told, when we donned our running gear, there wasn’t much to distinguish us from each other at the starting line.  But if I had tried to keep pace with her in an actual race?  I, the imposter, would have been found out by the 1-mile marker.

The longer I do this thing called following Jesus, the more I realize the significance of self-discipline.  The value of preparation, training and spiritual disciplines.  We all look good at the starting line.  Praise GOD, He’s made it so for every one of us.  But once this race gets underway, the rubber of our shoes quite literally meets the road, and we won’t be far into it before the pack begins to separate and we’re either going to be looking at a lot of people drawing up in front, or a lot of open road greeting us ahead. I like the latter.

I’m willing to put some hard work into having wide-open options in front of me.

Michael Phelps said it in an interview: “You’ve just got to stay in the pool longer than others.”

So here’s my question. 

What spiritual muscles did you exercise today?  And if you’re not feeling some after effects from your workout, you clearly didn’t put enough into it.

See you on the road.

You know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize. So run to win! – 1 Corinthians 9:24 (NCV)

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