Last May, I completed my first 5k race alongside a wonderful group of women from my church. In the months leading up to the 3.1 mile race, I spent lots of time working with George, my personal trainer. During each training session, he provided the technical instruction and loving encouragement I needed.
Whenever I ran, George reminded me about the importance of running at a steady pace. One day, while running laps in the gym I ran out of energy. I stopped running, dragged myself over to the bleachers, and flopped down in frustration. George calmly walked over to me, put a gentle hand on my slumped shoulder, and said, “Andrea, pacing isn’t an art, it’s a science. Once you understand how your body works and you start listening to what it says, it’ll be a lot easier for you to keep pace.”
Pacing is important. If a runner starts off too fast, she may run out of strength well before reaching the finish line. But, if she starts out too slowly, she runs the risk of taking way too long to reach the finish line. Finding the perfect pace allows a runner to reach the finish line in an efficient and timely manner.
Appropriate pacing is crucial in a physical race, but it is even more important in our spiritual race. The critical question is, “Who sets the pace?” As Christians we are to yield to God and allow him to set our life’s pace. However for many believers, including me, this is much easier said than done. What makes it so hard for me to let God set the pace of my life? I have discovered three reasons that hinder me.
First, I want to be in control. I don’t trust God to manage my life so I hold the GPS tightly and refuse to let Him touch it. Relinquishing control is difficult because in doing so, I agree to let God steer my life without interruption. Proverbs 3:5-6 is a great reminder of why it is important to let go and let God. Trust in the Lord with all your heart?and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Since God designed the course and knows all of its twists and turns, I can trust Him to safely lead me to the finish line.
Next, I am afraid. I am frightened by what may be lurking around the next bend. What if a spiritual storm is ahead? What if the next mile carries me down into a deep, dark valley? When I sense danger ahead, fear overwhelms me causing me to slow down or stop altogether. Fear sabotages my progress, but Isaiah 41:10 calms my fears by reminding that I am not alone. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. When I focus on God instead of my fear, it’s easier for me to move ahead.
Finally, I lack strength. Sometimes I am wearing myself out by trying to keep up with the world’s breakneck speed. At other times I’m moving at a snail’s pace, which hinders my success due to self-imposed limitations. The Bible tells me that I ought to be confident as God leads because…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6) and because I can do everything through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).
As I reflect upon George’s statements about pacing, I’m reminded that keeping pace with God isn’t always easy. When the sun is shining and the road before me is smooth and well paved, running the Christian race is a breeze. However, when the skies darken, the visibility drops, and the terrain becomes unsteady, I’m ready to abandon the race, forgetting that God is with me.
The wonderful thing about George’s statements is that they let me know that keeping pace with God IS possible. However, this only happens when I decide to listen to God. This means I take time to read the Bible and study its verses. In addition, I meet with God in prayer and ask Him to give me direction. As I complete the spiritual laps on my God given track, I begin to develop an understanding of the pace God has set for me.
Are you tired of running at your own pace? Are you worn out from sporadic pacing? If so, don’t fret! God will run beside you, showing you the beauty along the course and guiding you through each leg of the race.
If you’re ready for a more fulfilling life, lace up your spiritual sneakers, let God become your heart’s pacemaker, and begin an amazing race with Him as your guide. Let God set your spiritual pace. Get ready, get set, GO!
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© 2014, Andrea Thorpe. All rights reserved.