Setting Goals

I’m thinking it’s a good thing, having something to shoot for can really work wonders.

I’m running in a five mile (about 8.5 km) race in a couple of weeks with my best friend and have been working toward it all summer. It’s kept me motivated to get out there and run, and to be honest, the more frequently I go for a good run, the more I want to go again. I’m actually starting to really enjoy it and not just see it as a way to get in shape without paying the pricey gym membership.

It’s a chance to get to know my new neighborhood a bit better, to spend time outside in fresh air, to appreciate God’s creation, to think, to pray and to smell the flowers. It’s become one of the best parts of my day.

What’s so rewarding is the fact something that I never thought I could do is now something that I’m really excited about trying; it has become a goal that I’m certain I can reach. Now that I can say I’m confident that I’ll get through this 8.5 k race, I’m looking toward what I can do next. If I can run 8.5 km, what’s to stop me from doing ten? Or even working toward a half-marathon? Or even a full one?

This experience has been beneficial in a couple of ways.

First, it has helped me in my efforts to get my weight down in a healthy way; it’s given me a sense of accomplishment and confidence as I get to be in better shape.

More importantly though, it’s become a metaphor for how I feel about my faith. I had some pretty intense struggles this past year but managed through it all to hold onto God’s promises. I went from being weak—in a time of being hardly able to stand spiritually—to becoming gradually stronger, through a lot of work and effort, and now looking excitedly toward what He has next for me.

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As cheesy as it sounds, I now feel a better sense of understanding for Hebrews 12:1, "let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us" (TNIV). We can become so hindered and entangled, with distractions galore and just plain laziness that we can easily miss the sense of accomplishment and excitement that can come from running toward Christ.

What I’ve concluded, or what I’m continuing to realize and learn, is that maybe it’s not just important to set physical goals, like being able to run in a five mile race, but also set spiritual goals—getting to know God in a deeper way, really allowing Him to get me in spiritual shape as He continues to grow my character and make my life fuller. If I can work toward building up my own physical endurance and setting higher and higher goals of my own, how exciting will it be to see what I can become and accomplish if I likewise train and work toward following Christ more fully? Especially with a trainer who will never give up on me. It’s a pretty fantastic thing to think about.

I might be almost ready for this five miler, but in terms of my spiritual training, it’s an ongoing process, and there’s a lot left to be done. In spite of that, I’m really looking forward to seeing what lies ahead for me, as well as the training and endurance it will take to get there.

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