I have never been much of a runner. But in my quest to get back in shape and lose the extra weight that mismanaged stress had put on, I decided to train for a 5K last year. In just two months, I went from barely running a mile to winning first place in my age category (i.e., guys with a dad-bod).
But here’s the thing.
As soon as the race was over, I stopped running. That little bit of success, that little taste of victory, actually worked against me. Before I knew it, a month had passed and the pounds started coming back. I was right where I started.
Why do I always go from discipline to disaster, fighting to failure, running to retreating?
I’m tired of running these ups and downs. I’m tired of giving in to the downward spiral of apathy and self-defeat. It just leads to hopelessness. But I’m also tired of pumping myself up with shallow slogans and personal promises to do better the next time around. I already know where my rededication will lead. Whether it’s running a race or being a husband or doing my job or reading my Bible or being a neighbor or whatever else––I know I’ll eventually stop running.
The apostle Paul was given a “thorn in the flesh.” We don’t know exactly what the thorn was, but it was unwanted, and Paul pleaded with God to take it away. But God answered him with maddening clarity: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). God had a beautiful design for Paul’s weakness. Notice the verb tense “…is made perfect.” It’s present passive. That means whenever you’re feeling weak, whenever you’ve dropped the ball, whenever you’re letting it spiral out of control––in that very moment, in the present situation––His grace is sufficient for you.
I have never been much of a runner. I tend to retreat into apathy and self-defeat. But God keeps extending his grace to me. He keeps offering me his power in place of my weakness. My weakness is an opportunity for His power to be seen for what it is — perfect.
“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2