Faith is a team sport


Some of you know that I’m hoping to run a 10 K this summer. I’ve been training with good buddy Deanna Stoltenberg. These days, we’re running 5.5 miles every Saturday, just .7 mile from our event goal. At this point, I’m pretty certain we could finish a 10 K race without too much difficulty.

Two Saturday’s ago, God taught me another lesson.

Deanna was sick and couldn’t run. I set out without my training partner to finish our usual 5.5 mile route. But you know what? I couldn’t do it. Without her, the voices in my head took over. Instead of Deanna’s usual chatter, I heard this endless litany:

“I don’t want to do this.”
“My knee hurts.”
“I didn’t get enough sleep.”
“This is so boring.”
“My hips hurt.”
“I just can’t make it up this hill.”
“I need to walk for a while.”

And do you know what I did? I walked. I didn’t make it the full distance.

You don’t train for a long run by walking. And apparently, I don’t train well alone. I need the distraction of a good friend. I need someone whose voice quiets my own inner pain and exhaustion. I need someone to cheer me on, to believe that I can conquer a hill. Someone who won’t slow down, and won’t allow me to slow down either (unless, of course, cardiac arrest is imminent—after all, Deanna is much younger than I).

I need someone who helps me keep my eyes on the goal. Someone who pushes me forward and ignores my self-centered complaints.

And so do you!

Those who try to run the “faith race” alone do so at their own peril. The little discouraging voices are louder when you are alone, harder to disregard. It’s difficult to press forward. I. Don’t. Want. To. seems stronger, tougher to ignore. The pain is more significant. The boredom is nearly overwhelming.

This is the reason we are encouraged to live in community. “Don’t forsake the gathering of the brethren,” we are advised. “Encourage one another all the more . . .” Use your gifts, Paul tells us, so that the whole body grows into the stature of Christ.

When Paul faced death, he told Timothy that he had fought the good fight. Run the race. But even Paul didn’t run his race alone. He partnered with Barnabus, Silas, Dr. Luke and many others as he ran his difficult race for Jesus.

How about you? Who is your training partner in the faith?





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