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  • Aileen McKernan

Designed for the Win

But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Cor 15:57

When you've spent the latter part of two years in pain that prevents you from reaching, from running at your full potential it is easy to get discouraged.

Will I ever reach my long term goal? Will I ever run an ultra marathon? Will I ever even be able to run a marathon again? I wondered as I plodded and slogged along slowly making progress in recovery from bilateral iliotibial band syndrome that then became bilateral posterior tibial tendonitis along with crippling heel pain - their onset a matter of a series of rookie mistakes, poor training, poor nutrition, poor shoes. Poor me, I sunk into self-pity and despair, the recovery seemed insurmountable at times despite my mustard seed faith and far flung prayers.

Physical Therapy, daily strengthening, cross training, walking became words, became tools in my journey. Rest days, rest weeks, patience, kindness too. Character building that seemed to stretch the expanse of the horizon, on and on and on, as far as the east is from the west...

Another summer, another fall, another winter, another spring, and I just looked over my shoulders and suddenly I am running 2-3x a week again, have shifted out of therapeutic exercise to sport conditioning and I just completed my second trail 5k. I thank GOD to be where I am even though I'm not where I want to be yet, on top of Mount Whitney, the finish line of The Badwater 135, "The World's Toughest Footrace."

On a run the other evening I was meditating on this journey. Often I follow the Lord's leading about what park to run at, what trails to take. On this particular evening, He had me start by just walking, soaking in the scenery and taking pictures. I was getting antsy as the sun was creeping down, the trees' shadows becoming stronger, dimming out the trails before me. I thought I was going for a run, but I've been here before, thought a lot of things as the Lord leads me, but I'm learning to stop leaning on my thoughts. I abandoned my impatience and continued to follow His lead.

And there after soaking in a most beautiful moment of silence and solitude, gazing over the lake in gratitude of just being present with Him, His Spirit breathed the clearance to begin to run. I followed His lead and started with a slow, steady jog. I settled in to the comfort of measured steps up a hill here, over the roots there, around downed limbs there and realized I was picking up my pace, first slow and steady, now steady and strong when it hit me. This. This Journey. This lesson. God's Goodness. His plan for me. His purpose for me. His power in me.

I am designed to win this race He has set before me.

I should not be surprised that the season has now turned and the time is upon me to build, build strength, build stamina, build momentum. I am not some wimpy creature. I am not fundamentally flawed, incapable, or incompetent. As a born again, Spirit filled believer I am equipped to run, purposed to overcome, destined to win, to obtain the victory in sport and in the Spirit, in life and life eternal by the blood of Jesus Christ (Phil 4:13) and by the leading of His Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6).

In that moment I apprehended that whatever lay behind me, whatever struggle, whatever delay, whatever dejection and discouragement I experienced and encountered, it was to make me stronger. Stronger in relationship with God. Because I've been sidelined and forced to draw near to Him in every aspect of my running and recovery the past two years, I now have a much better training regiment, discipline, more sport knowledge, dialed in nutrition, more patience, more self control, better running form and gear, more faith, more confidence, and certainly more hope.

I may not be running as far as I was before, but I am running more steady, more secure, more sure, more strong. I am not running on my own resources or understanding but in complete confidence in the ONE who has led me every step of the way, who is aligning, shifting, and bringing me closer to Him. He has finished His race. He has sat down at the right hand of the Father (Mark 16:19), and where He is so am I (John 14:3). Even more encouraging the Word says as He is so am I (1 John 4:17). So even if I'm not there yet, I am purposed, positioned, and promised to win.

So I will continue to celebrate every milestone along the way and I will rejoice when I cross the finish line of the Badwater, in 3 years, in 5, in 15, however long it takes before He leads me to summit that mountain knowing now that no matter what twists and turns the journey may take I am getting stronger with every step, and I am coming in strong.

Questions for further thought:

  • Where are you in the race of your faith right now? steady and strong? discouraged? down and out?

  • Do you believe that you have the resources and capabilities in Christ to finish your race strong?

  • What would it take for you to believe that?

  • What scriptures could encourage and strengthen you for where you are in your journey?

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