I’ve been running off-and-on since I was at uni, but my latest ‘off’ has been my longest, around 18 months because of an ankle injury. But I’ve been easing myself back in, and this morning I did my first timed, distance run.
What helped me was a series of podcasts which I downloaded for nothing. Chirpy, occasionally irritating, musically bland, and mostly covered with cheesy motivational self-talk – but it got me through the barrier. This morning’s was so cheesy I laughed.
So, even though it was phony, it worked.
And last night I went to a meeting, and three people said something like, ‘Saw you out running, Chris!’
That, of course, is not phony. It’s proper encouragement from people I know, and as I plodded through Hadley Wood, I listened to the cheesy kind, but I was also thinking – ‘I wonder if Andrew or Steve will see me this morning? I’d better not stop!’
Church is meant to be encouraging – properly so. Hebrews 10:24-5 says, ‘And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.’
So how are you doing, in how you behave at church?
You’re probably going to put some distance between church and a phony podcast. We don’t need fake cheerfulness and ‘dream your dreams’ nonsense.
But, have you moved away from proper motivation of each other? Have you moved to a place where any motivational help is automatically suspect? ‘Come on! Don’t give up now! You managed it last time so you can do it this time! other Christians have climbed that hill too – you won’t be the first, so keep going’
Or, as Hebrews 12:1-3 also puts it, ‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses’ (including a different Steven and Andrew from the ones I saw!), ‘let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.’
Think it through
Hebrews says we are to ‘consider how we may spur one another on.’ Look ahead to Sunday – who are you going to meet whom you know could do with some cheerful, christian encouragement? What will you say, and which Bible verses might you point them to?
And no, I’m not going to tell you how far, or how fast/slow. But I’ll admit that those aren’t my legs on the cover of Finishing the Race. I wrote every word, but I used a body double.