The 3rd article of a 3-part series, “Lessons I’ve Learned as a Runner.”
In November, I started streaking.
No, not THAT kind of streaking! A running streak. A running streak is running at least one mile everyday for an entire month. My running buddy from another state invited me to try it, and the concept intrigued me. I had kept my pace and runs consistently awesome and felt happy about my current ability. I had never attempted a streak before, but I was convinced the challenge of one mile a day would be a cake walk. “No problem!” I said to my friend.
Those were my famous last words. “Cake walk” was not the phrase I would use to describe the challenge now, looking back. The minute I began to look at running as a flighty, easy thing, I stopped taking it seriously. It became more a hobby than a workout, and I abandoned the habits I established in my years of running for what I believed to be an oh-so-easy one mile jaunt. I exchanged the basics of running for the freedom of being a slacker.
What did being a lazy runner look like? I stopped stretching before and after each run. I mean, when my total workout would last about 8 minutes, I didn’t need to stretch, right? I barely broke a sweat, for goodness sake! Also, instead of focusing on my form and breathing pattern, I started bringing my dog with me, ignoring her constant pulling on the leash that threw off everything.
It spiraled from there. I began running last minute after heavy meals or under the hot midday sun. No sunscreen. No hat. No cares. That is until– BAM– one day I couldn’t stand up straight. I was laid out on the couch, icing my back, wondering where I went wrong. Maybe being a running slacker isn’t all it is cracked up to be? I had exchanged a false sense of freedom for a bigger problem: legit injury.
I began to tire of the pain that wouldn’t subside, so I saw a chiropractor for the first time in my life. I googled all my symptoms (thanks, Web M.D.!). I finally narrowed down the specific area I injured and realized it would take 6-8 weeks to completely heal. I had already been dealing with it 3 months! Why wouldn’t the pain go away?
As a last resort, I asked for prayer from my friends, pastors, and church elders. I know, I know– prayer should have been my first thought, but it wasn’t. I truly felt I could nurse my own body back to health! It was then God showed me a much deeper truth: Neglecting the basics for a false freedom will always cause injury.
It was then I realized this backache was more about my relationship with God than it was about running. Just like stretching and conditioning is key to successful running, our Christian faith has basics that, if slacked on, will have lasting painful effects. Neglecting the tried-and-true foundations of our faith will invite negative consequences. What are the basics of faith we must never turn our back on?Neglecting the basics of faith for a false sense of freedom will always cause injury. Click To Tweet
1.) Reading the Bible
This one is easy to let slip, especially when you have been a Christian for years. You read all the stories, memorize the verses, and mistakenly believe there is not much more to learn. Reading becomes a “when I feel like it” type interaction, rather than a consistent discipline. When we stop reading, we forget the stories of God’s faithfulness and His promises. We start to compromise our convictions because we don’t remember what they are. Reading the bible is essential to preventing spiritual injury.
2.) Praying each day.
I’m not talking about Lord-bless-our-food prayers. I mean intentional, uninterrupted time to connect with God daily. This is how we learn to hear His voice, understand where our life is headed, and ask for help for ourselves and others. It keeps us anchored to God’s plan rather than our own. When we want to run off and do our own thing, prayer reminds us that we aren’t in charge and asks God what He thinks about our plans.
3.) Going to church.
It’s simple: Get your butt out of bed on Sundays and make church a priority. Not only are we commanded to continue making time for corporate worship and teaching, but doing so builds our faith! Does your church point you to Jesus? Do they challenge you to keep growing? Are you empowered to serve? Then it is a good fit! Don’t have a church? It’s time to find one (and online doesn’t count.)
I am finally healing from my injury. I can tell you this– I will never neglect the basics ever again. I won’t believe the lie that “simple” means “pointless” or that slacking equals freedom. There is always a much bigger price to pay when we choose ease over discipline. I won’t think myself above the basics, in faith or life. Breathing, eating, and sleeping are the most basic functions of our body, yet we can’t live without them. Reading, praying, and church-ing are just as important. We need to work those spiritual muscles with care and consistency.
If you don’t stay conditioned for God, you won’t stay connected to God.
What is God saying to you as you read this? Are there basics you have set aside that you need to pick up again? What caused you to neglect them in the first place? Share below what you need to get back on track so we can pray for you!