THE TOUGH GET GOING: by jodi stilp

Hey Ladies. Can I let you in on a secret? You’re more than halfway done with your training. Can you believe that?  Way to go!  If you’re anything like me, the euphoria of your newfound athleticism has long since faded and the prospect of grinding out another five weeks of disciplined training sounds exhausting, not exhilarating. Now is the time when the rubber meets the road.  It is so tempting to give in to exhaustion and boredom and bail out on the training plan.  I talked to a lady, scheduled to run her first marathon, at a runner’s expo last weekend.  When I asked her if she stuck to her longer weekend training runs, she hesitated and then said, “Well… I didn’t like wasting four hours of my weekend running all those extra miles so I stopped.  I’ve run a half-marathon before so I figured I can run half and walk the other and I’ll still eventually cover the distance.” I’d be shocked if that woman made it to the finish line.

If you allow yourself to opt out of finishing your training schedule because you’re tired or it’s raining or the long distances are boring, you are setting yourself up for major fatigue and possible injury.  Allow that line of reasoning to permeate the way you think and you could easily talk yourself out of showing up on race day.  A quitter’s mentality is so defeating.

But you’re not a Quitter. You stick it out because you are Not Your Own. You were bought at a price, one paid with blood.  When the going gets tough, the tough get going and you are Tough.  You hold true to the commitments you make because you are not an Aimless Runner –you run to get the prize.  You see clearly in your mind’s eye a toned athlete running (in slow motion of course) victoriously toward the finish line.  The crowd chants your name while you, arms pumping, sweat beading, feet flying, sprint toward the finish line tape.  You are a Finisher.

The path we allow our minds to travel often dictates, for better or worse, how we feel. II Corinthians 10:5 says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” I love the aggressive, battle-lines language that Paul uses.  He writes from an offensive position, “demolishing” arguments and “taking captive” every thought that would dare to come against the knowledge of God.

I like to pair II Corinthians 10:5 with Philippians 4:8 where Paul says, “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” We capture the negative, defeating lies and replace them with positive, victorious truth.

What does this look like?

  • “It’s raining and cold.  I’d love to skip my workout,” becomes “It’s raining and cold outside.  Won’t that shower feel wonderful when I’m done with my workout?”
  • “I still have 3 miles to go and I’m dying.  Maybe I’ll turn around early,” becomes “I refuse to cave in to mental peer pressure.  I will finish this distance.  I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

Not convinced?  Listen to these stories from the front lines.

Rachael says,This past January, I started a journey to lose 60-70 pounds and to get healthy.  I seem to think in my brain that there aren’t a lot of 26-year-olds who need to lose this much weight.  I prayed Jesus would break the chains that have held me down far too long. Something I’ve been learning is that while I’m Not My Own, I’m also not ON my own.  There are others around me, supporting me, keeping me accountable, and encouraging me.  Almost 50 pounds later, my weight loss goal is only 10-20 pounds away!  As I run 3-4 times a week and attempt to not look like a fool in the gym, I find that the physical discipline is transferring to the spiritual.  Be encouraged.  Wherever you are, God’s grace will see you through.”

Carissa (my running partner and friend) and I ran the Eugene half-marathon last weekend.  Before the race, we prayed together asking Jesus to be glorified in our bodies and in our minds as we ran.  We ran fast and strong and when we got tired, we chanted to ourselves, “I am Not My Own.” Even better, we both broke our previous personal best times!

Alisa says on her personal blog, “Here’s one very important thing to know about me:  I am a quitter.  I can think of very few times in my life where I set my mind to do something and actually saw it through to completion.

In the case of Not Your Own I am quite literally surrounded by a cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1).  My body and my spirit cannot be separated – I am one being, created by God for His glory and His purposes.  So I signed up to run, not walk, the whole 13 miles.  I am determined.  This time, I am going to see something through to the end.

I ran 6.5 slow and steady miles last week and as I ran, I thought through the reasons I am running:

  • I am running to get into shape.  My body isn’t nearly as healthy as it should be and I want to be strong and fit.
  • I am running to look good for my husband.  Call me shallow, but I want to fit back into my favorite jeans without having to camouflage my lovely muffin tops.
  • I am running because it gives me a few moments to be alone, pray, worship, think and listen without the constant noise and needs of two little kids.
  • I am running, if for no other reason, out of obedience.  God’s Word instructs me to glorify God in my body (I Corinthians 6:20) and to be disciplined and self-controlled (Galatians 5:22).  I know that if God says it, it has good purpose.  I want whatever He has for me.  I want to run my race.

I am halfway to a goal that stills feels daunting, but no longer impossible.”

Like Alisa, you are halfway to a goal that still feels daunting, but is no longer impossible.  Are you ready to enter the battlefield, demolish strongholds, and take your thoughts captive?   Claim the truth of Philippians 4:13 in your life – “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” and keep persevering all the way to the finish.

Persevering with you,