Written By Alwin Thomas, Singapore
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15)
I’m sure this tug of war between the desires of our flesh and our spirit is not uncommon for many of us. Just like the apostle Paul mentioned in Romans, we feel trapped when the choices we make seem to condemn us and leave us confused and frustrated. So when things seem too hard to bear and we are unable to face the weight of our sins, what do we do?
Well, I run! I find that a good run always clears my mind, and I enjoy the distraction which helps me to focus on something positive. But when the adrenaline wears out and the weariness kicks in, I’m sometimes left wondering—why can’t I control my desires and my actions?
Here’s five “running” tips I’ve found that might help you escape from your problems and head towards a solution.
Tip 1: Run with a destination in mind
When you put on your sneakers and pound the streets, it’s always good to think about where you want to go. Similarly, when you’re faced with a problem, it’s good to consider the way forward and think about what you hope to achieve. Simply running away from a problem doesn’t solve it; we need to head somewhere.
For example, we may be struggling with whether to correct a friend in love. It’s good to take a step back and ask ourselves: What do I want out of this relationship? Is it growing in the way I want it to? By keeping the end in mind, we can pace ourselves accordingly and finish the race strong.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)
Tip 2: Run with trusted friends
It has been proven that when you run with others, you not only go farther, but you can also run for a longer period of time. In the same way, God places us in a community of believers to grow with and also to struggle with. When the going gets really tough, get going with people who will run this race with you till the very end.
While it may be hard to open up and let others in, not having friends to share the load with can make the experience even more intense and vexing. Dare to share your problems with those you trust—you may just find fellow sufferers who can shed some light or new perspective on your predicament.
“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.” (Hebrews 10:24–25)
Tip 3: Run to get strong
God sometimes leaves obstacles in our lives so that He can grow us into maturity. He has a great plan for our lives and only by embracing our weaknesses, facing our struggles and overcoming them, can we begin to see that.
That is why we sometimes end up in situations we don’t want to be in. For example, we might have to deal with someone who irritates or frustrates us—and makes it even more difficult to control our temper. It’s not easy, of course, but it builds our resilience and makes it easier for us to make deal with such circumstances in the future.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 9: 24–25)
Tip 4: Run a different route
Sometimes, as we run, we find ourselves heading into a dead end (it happens). When that happens, we change our route and try a different path. Likewise, after trying so hard to solve a problem one way, it might be a good idea to take a step back and retrace your steps. Could there be another solution that you might have missed in your anxiousness to get rid of the problem?
Say you have been struggling with an addiction. Maybe you spend too much time on the computer, or you shop too often. You try to cut down on your habit or distract yourself with something else, but you always end up where you started, doing the same thing. Have you ever considered trying a different route? Only when we replace the desire of our hearts with a desire for God, can we truly start and continue to live a different lifestyle.
“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.” (Hebrews 12:1–2)
Tip 5: Run with joy
It really is about the journey and not just the end. God has so much He wants us to learn in this life—we just have to recognize that no matter how bad it gets, He is always in control.
But how do we remember this, when there is so much to be gloomy about? Sometimes, it requires us to be a little less “greedy” about what we want out of life, and to simply be thankful for the small things we get. When we start to adopt a positive attitude, we will start to see more instances where we can be grateful.
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3–5)
This human race is given by God. So get out there and live your life trusting God!