I used to run for distance. I stopped. I suppose I quit. But I most certainly didn’t give up.
Running served it’s purpose—a life-giving one, in fact. It kept me sane during the first eighteen months of my fourth child’s life.
Back then, running offset my horrible eating habits. I stopped those, too. Running was good. Somedays even spiritual. As I would set my sights on the mile markers ahead and close in on the finish line I would be reminded of this passage of scripture.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”
It was always a “win” when I ran. But running ran its course. And then I stopped. I definitely didn’t quit. And I most certainly never gave up. So what’s the difference? How do you know if you are just giving up?
NEVER QUIT IN A VALLEY.
Let me explain. There were highs and lows in every race I ran. Mile Marker Eight was always a tough one for me—a little past the halfway mark in my half marathon races. But Mile Marker Eight was still too far away to see the hope of the finish line. My legs would feel heavy. My mouth would grow dry. I would become discouraged over the many miles I still had to go.
The hoopla from the starting gun was long gone by Mile Marker Eight. And there in the middle, few bystanders cheered for me. They saved their encouragement for the finish. But nothing at Mile Marker Eight. The middle was tiresome and lonely. Doubt always crept in. But I could never trust my feelings in the valley. Feelings aren’t often facts. They’re REAL, but they’re not facts. And to quit in the middle of a hard time would be a mistake. That’s just giving up.
NEVER STOP BECAUSE OF FEAR.
I’ll never forget the America’s Finest City Half-marathon held in August. The San Diego sun was scorching, and I had not fueled my body well. When Mile Marker Six arrived, my body began to cramp. I grabbed a Dixie cup of water, dreading to swallow for fear of throwing it back up all over my fellow racers. I ran to the nearest bathroom, uncertain of what my body was doing. I broke into a sweat, followed by waves of chills from head to toe. Visions of me being that one girl passed out on the pavement with an emergency medic hovered over her flashed through my mind. “Keep going, Jen. There’s Mile Marker Seven. You can do it. There’s Eight…” And the race continued on.
I was afraid I wouldn’t make it—even more afraid of what might be wrong. I crossed the finish line at mile 13.1, and my body had survived. I ran the race to get the prize, which had demanded I press past my fear. To quit when I was afraid would have been a mistake. That’s just giving up.
I had a fruitful season of running. We had a good run—she building character in me that far surpassed what I had expected. I learned to train. I better appreciate the value of endurance, and my mind is better for it.
I don’t know the race you’re running right now. Is it time to endure? Is it time to stop?
Don’t let fear set your pace. Don’t let doubt make your decision. It’s OK to stop. Just don’t run away. That’s giving up. And there’s a big difference between stopping, quitting and giving up.
God has you exactly where you are. He knows where we are. He sees us. He has not forgotten about you. This place of frustration is a place of transformation. It is in this place, where we must stop and wait on Him. It is here where we can find His love, His direction and His guidance. Just don’t give up. The most important calling for our lives is not only the one we dream of – but the one that we are running in. What he has already placed right in front of us – for this exact moment. Don’t miss it. You win!