March 5, 2020
Written By Abbey Hayes, Group Exercise Instructor
Hi, my name is Abbey Hayes and I love to run. This is a phrase I never thought I would write. Like ever.
Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane to three years ago. I was unmotivated, unhappy, and couldn’t run to the end of my block without wanting to give up. I had been over-weight my entire life and saw running as something that would cause humiliation, rather than something that could change my life.
However, I was sick of feeling like this! I wanted to stop dreaming about changing my life AND ACTUALLY DO IT! I began to train for the Virginia 10 Miler and was absolutely terrified. Long story short, I ran the race. I’ve run it three times since and been in the top 10% of women the past two years. After discovering a passion for running, I developed a passion for all things fitness—especially running and HIIT. Now, I teach fitness classes and love working out.
I have something far more important to share with you: the lessons that God taught me as I’ve ran around Liberty’s campus over the past three years. Although, I would be happy to share with you that running from East Campus to Chili’s and back is exactly 2.5 miles, and there’s a phenomenal 5K loop starting at LaHaye, going around Thomas Road, running by the Circle, and running all the way back to LaHaye. But, we are here to talk about something far more important. Endurance.
If you hate running, that’s okay. I did too! But guess what? God created it, and that means He can teach us things through it. I don’t know about you, but to me, that’s pretty exciting. So, open your Bible, put on your running shoes, and let’s dive in.
Hebrews 12:1b-2a: And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. (NLT)
This is pretty much the reason I work out. Now, why is this so important to me? Well, I realized that first-world countries have very little need for endurance. Everything is at our fingertips. Pain can be temporarily escaped with ease, and we never really have to force ourselves to endure anything. I believe that God gave us running, or any type of physical activity, to practice endurance. He gave us this gift to learn what it is like to power through something that feels impossible, and to realize that there must be something or someone bigger than ourselves to carry us through the unsurmountable. And that someone is Jesus. I know it may sound silly to think that you can find Jesus on a one-mile run starting from Commons 2 and ending at the gym, but He’s there.
Hebrews 10:36: Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. (NLT)
Have you ever noticed how long and awful the hills are when you run? Three minutes uphill feels like hours of torture. We result to walking 30 seconds in, feeling absolutely incapable of making it up the mountain. But I have good news for you! Every time you get to the top of a hill, there is a downhill!
So, you may be asking, how does this apply to my life as a Christian? Creation shows us that if there is a mountain, there must be a valley. As you run, keep this in mind. Don’t run up the mountain in fear of stopping, or worrying that it will never end, but knowing that relief is coming. The Lord is preparing you and developing your endurance for the future AND because it is so hard in the moment, you will enjoy the downhill that much more.
Psalm 150: 6: Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord! (NLT)
We have all had those moments on a run where everything in us wants to give-up. Even though I try to focus on worshipping and praying as I run, sometimes I have nothing left in me. I become frustrated with my exhaustion, which can turn into becoming frustrated with God. This typically happens when I’m unhappy with circumstances in my life. I think to myself, “How can I worship God right now? Everything in me is tired and I can barely take a step forward.” And that is when I am reminded that I don’t have to do anything, God created my body to worship him. That truth gives me so much relief and freedom. Even when I am at the end of my rope, God still created my body for worship. He is so kind to us. He will carry us when we can’t continue. When we are weak his is strong.
With these three concepts in mind, I have completely changed the music that I listen to when I run. Instead of pumping trap music through my ears, I choose to listen to worship music. I know it may sound crazy, but it has made my running time faster. There is nothing more motivating than the truth that Christ has set me free! I hope to see you running around campus. Remember, this is beyond burning a couple hundred calories (even though that is an awesome benefit). This is worship.