As you already know, if you’ve read my blog before, I like to relate life events, discussions with coworkers, and even movies I watch to spiritual matters. Today’s lesson (for me) has to do with pushing myself, which sounds like a good thing on the surface.
I was recently in training for a 5K… I hated it! I was not able to run a lot because of weather conditions, so I had to make due with an elliptical on cold and/or raining days (which were not few). Now, don’t get me wrong, I love running. But pushing myself too hard, too fast to work up to doing a 5K at the end of April after not running since September was a tad ambitious. My best time for 3.1 miles last year was 35 minutes. When I did the 5K, I did it in 38. But I was sore. (I still feel it in my hip if I sit or stand too long.)
I didn’t want to ever run again.
This morning I got up and went for a run. I ran 1.5 miles and I did it nice and slow. It felt great! I totally remembered why I started running in the first place – me outside, in nature (somewhat), completely away from everything and everybody…
I came to a couple of conclusions:
- Pushing myself to do something uncomfortable (but needed) is good.
- Pushing myself to do something I am not fully ready for is bad.
So, here’s the spiritual parallel… It is good for me to stretch myself and learn new things (theology, etc). It’s good for me to exercise my faith (praying ridiculous prayers). It’s even good for me to train for my future (ministry) assignments. However, it’s not good for me to overdo the training and burn myself out on any one aspect of what I need for the future. And it is definitely not good for me to try to do now what it is not time for me to do yet (that which I am not fully trained).
Yes, there will be a time when I need to step out in faith (not fully ready), and start the next step. This is not that time. Do I believe it is close? Yes, it is closer than it was yesterday. I will get there soon enough. (Not as soon as I’d like, but I’m impatient.)
The bottom line is that I need to make sure I am able to focus as much on the why as the what while training. I also need to make sure I am ready for what I set out to do and have the wisdom to acknowledge the fact that I need more time so I don’t hurt myself (or anyone else). Just like running this morning, I need to find joy in what I do (that’s scriptural). I also need to operate (especially from a ministry standpoint) from a place of rest in God and His finished work. If I am putting too much of my own elbow grease into it, it will not be as effective as using His strength. Period.