ran my first ever Half Marathon this year. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this run, it is a 13.1 miles race.
I had always wanted to see if I could run that many miles without stopping. I really didn’t know what to expect on race day. I was nervous. But there were thousands of people around me so there was this great energy that seemed to be saying, “We’re all going to do this together!” And we did.
What I wasn’t expecting, were the spiritual lessons I learned along the way. It turns out, running the Half Marathon was a lot like running the race of life:
1) When you sign up to run 13 miles, you know it’s not going to happen overnight. You know that there will be some training involved and many runs before the big one. I thought long and hard about this. You have to exercise certain muscles so that they’re used to a certain level of performance. It would take a severe toll on your body if you forced it to perform without building any stamina for a particular activity.
In the same way, connecting with God doesn’t happen overnight. A lot of times, people say, “I want that type of connection with God” or “I believe in God but I never hear from Him.” Connecting with God isn’t something that’s done once in a blue moon. Like a muscle, you have to exercise your spiritual muscle. You have to spend time in prayer or meditation on a regular basis. Otherwise, when trouble looms and you desperately want that deep connection, it may not be possible. A relationship doesn’t just manifest itself suddenly. It takes work and regular commitments. The same goes for our relationship with God.
2) My goal when running was not to stop. I had this bad feeling that once I stopped either to take a break or to grab some water- that I wouldn’t be able to start back up again. I could see myself getting lazy if I stopped. In the past, I had experienced how much harder it is to start running again after you stop to take a break.
Again, this made me think of God; specifically, attending a spiritual congregation, whether it be a temple or church or whatnot, regularly. It’s so easy to stop going once we take a break from it. That’s why it’s important to make time at least once a week, every week, to attend a holy congregation.
3) While I was running the race, I looked around at those who were participating with me. I quickly discovered that it was a wide mix of people, including the young and old, the thin and overweight, the athletes and non-athletes. And running along with me were also people who didn’t necessarily have two fully-functioning legs. These guys were way behind me, but they kept going until they crossed the finish line.
Watching the man with an artificial leg, reminded me that God has given us all the tools we need to accomplish whatever He sets us out to do. He has given all of us the tools to connect with Him you don’t need a certain amount of money, you don’t have to have perfect health and you don’t have to be the smartest person in your class Anybody and everybody can have a relationship with God.
4) After running for about an hour, I took a sneak peak at my watch to see how I was doing on time. I was so happy to see that I was making great time with 6 miles already done. But as I finished my 8th mile, something happened that reminded me of one of the Ten Commandments in the Bible.
My training partner started the race much after me because there was some mix-up with his registration. So, I figured he was way behind me somewhere as I had not seen him pass me up (I had been keeping an eye out for him). Needless to say, when he passed me by, I was shocked to see how ahead of me he was. He was shocked too! Neither of us could understand how he had ended up ahead of me in the run. For some reason, my earlier excitement about my time deflated and I couldn’t understand why I was suddenly unhappy with my performance. The Bible says Thou Shall Not Covet. I realized that the reason my joy had been compromised was because I compared myself to someone else and in the process jealousy took over. How silly! Sometimes we have everything in life to make us happy but we compromise that joy when we see our neighbors doing better than us or see someone else with what we want. And comparing yourself with others is NOT the way to live.
5) As I crossed my tenth mile, it suddenly became a struggle to keep going. My body ached and it seemed like I still had a long way to go. All of a sudden, I began to have doubts if I would make it across the finish line. I was so desperate. After all the time and effort I had put in, I wanted to accomplish my goal. And it was about this time that I started praying.
Funny, it’s like that in real life too. We forget God when we’re doing well. We don’t think about praying when we feel capable of doing things on our own. But when a moment of desperation comes, then we get on our knees.
6) My goal at the onset of the race was to finish the Half Marathon within 3 hours. I ended up doing it in 2 hours and 20 minutes my best time yet!
Here was the final lesson~ Sometimes we set goals for ourselves, but God wants to give us better. He has a way of doing things beyond our imagination if we let Him.
God had a different plan for me and it was better than what I had planned for myself. Trust Him. He knows best.
Arti Nehru is a California native. She has a Master of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She received her Bachelor of Arts from UC Berkeley where she completed a major in Mass Communications and minor in English.
Arti dabbled with her first major print and broadcast reporting assignments while she was in graduate school in Chicago. This included exploring life on Capitol Hill while being a Washington D.C. Correspondent for 7 CBS affiliates in Montana. Arti has also reported for KEYT-TV (ABC) in Santa Barbara where she was an On-Air general assignment reporter covering multiple stories on a daily basis for the evening newscasts.
In her free time, Arti loves to travel, volunteer, write in her journal, and spend time with her family. Her favorite hobbies are reading and mentoring children.
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