IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE HARD
A few days back I decided to run along the ridge of the Lickey Hills, a high place overlooking the great city of Birmingham where I live in the U.K. I have often enjoyed running along the ridge and through the wooded trails that cover the hills which are 978 ft above sea level, not a mountain but a challenging hill for sure!
The night before my run I had this crazy idea of running from my home all the way up the hill instead of taking the car and then, at that high elevation, running the ridge and trails. I could hear a voice saying you’ll never do it, whilst in my heart, I knew that I could, so as I laid my head on the pillow I resolved I would conquer that Hill.
AS A MAN THINKS IN HIS HEART, SO IS HE! (Proverbs 23:7 KJV)
At 4:30 am I was wide awake, it was already getting light and the birds were singing, within moments I was out of my comfortable bed and in my running kit and lacing up my Saucony’s – it was time to run. The first five Kilometres were easy but things began to change when I was 6 kilometres in. The road began to lift in front of me as the gradient got steeper, my usual regulated breathing turned to pant and sweat dripped profusely from the peak of my run cap. This was more challenging than I anticipated. Halfway up that hill, my legs demanded that I stop, but I remembered that running quote…
“YOU’VE GOT THIS SO STOP LISTENING TO YOUR LEGS WHINING!”
It was hard, but as I leaned into God and asked Him for strength, I found it. Let’s not forget that when we run we run for the glory of God, our running and experiencing His presence whilst we are out there gives Him pleasure, so don’t think that strength only comes when we are doing a deeply spiritual task, because that’s bad theology. The Scripture says, ‘He gives power to the weak and strength to the Powerless’. And there’s more, the same passage of scripture tells us that ‘Those that trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will RUN AND NOT GROW WEARY! (Isaiah 40)
As I leaned into God running up that hill I drowned out the constant negative voices that were telling me to quit by reminding myself of the truth of Philippians 4:13
I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO GIVES ME STRENGTH!
Sometimes we think God will do ‘Things’ for us, and sometimes He does, but mostly we have to do those ‘things’ ourselves. Sure God moves mountains but He often uses OUR shovel. We have access to the Most High God and His infinite power, but we must always remember He is THE KING and we serve Him and not the other way round!
And so I still had half a hill to climb, my stride got shorter and my pace slowed, but each step felt empowered and my weakness seemed to turn to renewed strength as I repeated ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!’ And so with God’s help, I made it to the top without stopping.
And at the top I was rewarded with a stunning sunrise over my City and a sense of pride and accomplishment, with Christ help I had done one of those ‘All Things’, yes it was hard but worth it. Movie star Tom Hanks said,
“IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE HARD. IF IT WASN’T HARD, EVERYONE WOULD DO IT. THE HARD…IS WHAT MAKES IT GREAT!”
When it comes to running, witnessing for Christ, faithful serving and generous giving our legs, our mouths and our hands often whine and want to quit, yes these things are often hard, but the hard makes them great and brings more glory to God.
Are you running hills through life? Is the going tough? Are your legs whining and your lungs screaming at you to stop? Well don’t stop when you’re tired – stop when you’re done! That run to the top of the Lickey Hills was one of my toughest yet as that steep gradient rose before me like a defiant Giant taunting me to give up – but the account of David slaying Goliath (1 Samuel 17) tells me that Giants can be overcome and conquered. Yes running up that hill taught me that…
I AM CAPABLE OF MORE!
Yes, you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength; so if you really believe this, ask yourself what ‘Hard thing’ can I attempt to do for Jesus this week?
Maybe witness to that person you find intimidating.
Maybe open your wallet and give sacrificially.
Maybe sign up for some ministry at church that doesn’t really flick your switch but nevertheless needs to be done by faithful people.
Find a hard hill or tough route and decide that you’re going to conquer it WITH God’s help, as after all, He doesn’t stay at home when we run, He comes with us!