How I Saw Strength Made Perfect

I used to think the marathon was an absurdly long way. That didn’t stop me, however, from being drawn to it.

I remember taking a one-credit class in college focused on resume building and future career preparation. I never really bought into the high-powered corporate ambitions I was supposed to crave, but I do remember writing down “run a marathon” on a list of personal goals.

I don’t think it’s an absurdly long way anymore, possibly because I’ve made online and in-the-flesh friends who have run 50 mile and Ironman (140.6 mile triathlon) races. They aspire to things like 24 hour endurance challenges.

Oof.

I will say I get it. Even if the training gets long and unforgiving, there’s something deeply special about the camaraderie covering endless miles creates. I’m certain this becomes more true the longer the race gets. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to carry on a proper conversation during a 5K, but I’ve made lasting connections during each marathon I’ve run.

Back in junior high I remember 3200 meters (the dreaded 2 mile) seemed like forever. I never would have dreamed I could run a marathon, much less become a marathoner who covered the distance multiple times.

I need to remember to give thanks for that. Every finish line represents another day I am able to run.

Something else also emerged as I’ve been reflecting on the accomplishment and disappointment of marathon number three.

My own weakness has never felt so apparent to me as during the last half hour of this race. I was broken.

My legs weren’t going to carry me to my goal time, and I was beyond disappointed. Why was I letting it slip away?

It’s so easy to look back and think I should have had the mental strength to will my legs faster. All the training should have made my body strong enough to push through the pain.

Could have. Should have. Would have. But with these thoughts I miss the point. It’s not about my strength or lack there of. It’s about a bigger strength. The strength that formed my body, sculpted my mind, and keeps my heart beating everyday. Divine strength.

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.     2 Corinthians 12:8-9 KJV

God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness.

Does that mean God caused me to miss my goal?

No.

Can He help me through the disappointment so I emerge better because of it?

I think so.

In trying to analyze all the right and wrong of this race, God quieted the numbers and paces in my head. He brought me some peace in my weakness. I’m human and sinful, and for the rest of my life I will continue to mess up. Not just in running, either. 🙂 This reality affirms my need for Christ all the more.

It’s never fun to admit failing, and other people usually don’t want to hear about it. We share our smiles and healthy suppers on Instagram or twitter while we casually push away the fights we’ve had and the bitterness we carry.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to dwell on the positive and push past the negative, but sometimes we need to own our weakness and realize we can’t do it alone.

God cares about the small things – every sparrow. He is present in every aspect of life, big or small. In my worst moments, that’s when I really need to remember to invite him in.

At the end of the marathon, my dad was busy capturing smiling photos of me, the finish line, and my medal. JR was taking photos too, and he got this gem.

20140523-100330.jpg

I promise I wasn’t really pouting this much! At least not audibly.

I think it was just a tired moment, but I was feeling a little this way on the inside. It’s not glamorous, but at least it’s real. It’s as real as the savior who guided me through the long miles — even when I was at my lowest.

Somewhere in the future, as I achieve my next goals (or finally run 3:59), I’ll know it’s God’s strength working past my weakness that brought me to success.

 

About Lisa

Hi, I'm Lisa. Dairy farmer's wife and Minnesotan to the core, I write about rural farm life, running down country roads, and the food, faith, and family that bind everything together. Follow along on my journey.
This entry was posted in Christian Reflections, Running and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to How I Saw Strength Made Perfect

  1. Adriane Heins says:

    Great post, Lisa! It is amazing to me that, even in marathons, we see our need for a Savior.

  2. Rebecca says:

    Beautiful words! And that picture is great. 🙂

  3. Very crazy! I literally just read those verses in a study I’m doing called Named by God by Kasey van Norman a few I Tuesday before reading this. You should look it up, because it’s amazing! I had a similar experience during a half marathon last year where I was only after my own glory and I had never cramped in a run in my life, but suddenly both legs seized up forcing me to slow down. At that moment the song To God be the Glory came to mind and it was painfully clear that it was about Him, not me. The lengthier story is over on fitnessontheprairie.com under race recaps. He uses all things to teach us!

  4. Tanmay Roy says:

    Wonderful photo and thanks for the post!

  5. Great thoughts. I agree that sometimes God uses disappointments to remind us that we need Him and He’s the one in control. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but worth it!

  6. Pingback: Running the Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon | Cow Spots and Tales

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