So, someone asked me this week while I was in a meeting, “Do you get the runner’s high?” I replied, I’m not quite sure what that is. I can say, however, that running has captured my competitive instinct (at least what’s left of it), and my drive to push myself to new levels has taken me to levels of commitment I could never have imagined. I enjoy exercising quite a lot, and I especially enjoy the rewards of building and executing a training program from research and reflection. I am training for the Baltimore Marathon after having run the Baltimore 10-miler (2 yrs in a row, now) and the Dreaded Druid Hills 10K. Exercise and competition has always had a large role in my life, and I have already started to select some challenging running goals for 2013.
This running thing is part of the reason I’ve failed to write consistently on this blog. There’s only so much time to be distributed among my wife, my son, my work, and my running. Most everything else comes somewhere below that.
If you’ve been reading this blog (or if you casually peruse some of the recent entries), you’ll be able to guess that I’m not totally comfortable with the last sentence of my last paragraph. Because, in that paragraph was no mention of my Bible study. Ever since planning to take a break from more intense study back in May, I just have not gotten back into it. And I’m certainly feeling the effects.
We all have that time in our lives where we tell ourselves that we’ve been pushing it, and we just need to take a break from that discipline that has been consuming us. We do so only to find that the discipline we’ve pushed aside is the very thing that has kept us going. That keeps us in joy and at peace. And that keeps us in communion with God.
While I’m writing these words, I’m being reminded of a conversation I had with my discipleship group at church. We were discussing various things, but when the issue of discipline came up, I told them I think a lot of our success in spiritual discipline comes from God’s release into that practice. For some of us, we are gifted and dedicated prayer warriors who never grow weary at waiting and listening for God while opening their hearts to Him; others are sublime in their service to their communities and the Body; others are natural worshipers, practicing the Presence of God in every moment and can draw others near as the Sprit moves freely through Him; others voraciously read the Word of God, while being given profound insights to encourage, instruct, correct, and exhort themselves and others. While every believer has all of these things in some measure, when we go out of our personality to pursue something for some wrong motive, we distance ourselves from God’s move in our lives.
I feel like I was doing that a bit in moving from my discipline of study. While I was, and do, feel that I am lacking in worship or prayer, part of that is discipline on my part while part is that God has not released me into those special roles. He has, however, given me a life and a personality that empowers me to spend large blocks of time in His Word. While I need to open my soul and seek God for a heart of Worship and incessant prayer, I must do these things in addition to the disciplined and organized study of His Word.
That was a long way to say: “first things first!” I guess I can sum it up by saying that there’s always a place for rest and a break, but be sure to have a plan for how that break will end.