For some crazy reason, a few months ago I thought it would be a good idea to sign up for a half-marathon in late-April that my company puts on. I’ve never run that distance before but given that the proceeds benefit cancer research and treatment – one of my passion areas – and in an effort to support the company, I signed up. That, of course, was the easy part.
Over the past few months I have been training, meaning running five times a week, starting off with smaller distances and gradually moving into longer distances. Generally, Saturdays have been reserved for the longest runs of the week, as building up distances over time is important to be able to run 13.1 miles eventually during the race.
While I have enjoyed running over the past 20 years or so, I haven’t ever run any more than 10 miles at a time. Even when I have, it was longer ago and never since turning 50 a couple years ago. If you would have asked me six months ago if I’d be able to run a half-marathon I would have politely declined … essentially, those days are behind me. Or at least, so I thought. Even running four miles, just a few months ago, felt like a stretch. Since then, for the past five Saturdays I’ve run 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 miles, and yesterday I got through 12 1/2. That made it the second week in a row that ran a distance I’ve never run before.
I say all this not to toot my horn, but to set up a pretty powerful lesson I’ve learned along the way. You might assume, rightly, that when you’re out running for a couple hours you have lots of time to think. Most of the time, I am thinking about how I don’t want to be out running for a couple hours. 😎 As I have pressed on, however, my thoughts have centered around those who are serving as my inspiration for this race … folks in my life or sphere who have, had or died from, cancer. Their journeys serve as the fuel in my tank. The “one day at a time” mentality that they employ through a horrific voyage with an angry disease reminds me that I can cover a long distance. How? The same way as they do, by taking one … more … step. One at a time.
One of my favorite Bible verses affirms this perspective. Matthew 6:33-34 …
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
This instruction is so powerful and helps us focus on the here and the now. On just accomplishing today … achieving this moment … getting over this hurdle. I literally think about this to myself as I run, and I literally repeat to myself when I’ve been running these long distances, “One more step. One more step.” Rhythmically. Because I need to think about nothing other than just taking the next step. If I get overly focused on how far I’ve run, or how far I have left to run, I reorient my mental state in a way that debilitates me. It makes me feel fatigued. I think about the pain I’ll feel when I get ahead further.
And so it is in life in a lot of ways. Things happen … we get a lot of situations thrown in our paths, we go through challenging circumstances, we get sick, people around us get sick. We struggle with family or relationship woes. To say it’s difficult doesn’t do justice to the reality. It’s one of the things that moves me most about my friends that have or had cancer and why they inspire me so deeply. I watched my mom go through it. Day by day, dealing with a disease that could kill her. She, like so many others, got up every day, went through their treatment and, often worse, the side effects of their treatment. Every day, they dealt with today no matter how tough today was.
In the portion of Matthew 6 above, Jesus is teaching about faithfulness with money and possessions. But in a broader sense, He is teaching us to focus on what truly matters … not what we have or what we own, but how we live. Of course, Jesus was well aware of the brevity of life, since He created it. Indeed, before long He was going to experience the brevity of it as He sacrificially laid down His life for us on the cross. And even while He was teaching about the tangible considerations of life, He emphasized that we should take our lives in smaller increments. One moment at a time. One more day. One … more … step.
I don’t know what you’re going through, what you’re facing, what’s facing you. Some of us are dealing with things that are so big … too big to think we have a chance at overcoming. I can only imagine. Seriously can only imagine the burdens some of you bear. A friend of ours is just finishing chemo and gets to look forward to surgery as a follow up. It just sounds daunting and heavy. But somehow, she faces her plight confidently but with imperfect knowledge about what is to come. How? She deals with today. She deals with the here and now. One … more … step. Not focused on tomorrow, next week, next month. Just focused on getting through today.
My goal is not to minimize the reality you might be facing and it’s not to sound trite. My hope is to encourage us what the Bible tells us in Luke 12:25-26 …
Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?
My point is this … whatever you face, whatever battle you’re waging, take it one day at a time. Win today. Ask God to give you the power to wake up today, to give you strength to move through today, through this moment. Doing so will help us rely on Him more frequently, more completely. It will remind us that He is running right alongside us, that He is there every moment, that the way we can not worry about tomorrow is by relying on Him every moment of today. First Peter 5:7 sums it up best …
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
Let’s ask Him to help us focus on the here and now, on today rather than yesterday or tomorrow, on one … more … step.
Soli Deo gloria!