5 min read
Three Ways to Run
As Christians, we often hear the comparison of faith to running a race. Just before his death, the apostle Paul reflects that he had “finished the race” (2 Timothy 4:7).
Running is one of my favorite ways to exercise. I was running the other day, and while I was out, the Lord reminded me of Paul’s metaphor for our faith. Jesus is alive, and His Spirit is constantly teaching us new things in fresh ways.
The Spirit put it on my heart to specifically examine and write about the ways that I run in the context of purity, sexual integrity, and victory. I reflected on this more, I recognized that these three concrete things I do during my runs can be translated into three concrete ways to continue to fight the battle for sexual integrity.
Let’s quickly look into this together.
Holding a Powerful Perspective
Before I start my run, I always try to remember to pray first, that God would give me strength and that it would be a way for me to honor Him with my body. This might sound a bit intense, but it helps me to keep perspective.
When I run, it is a way for me to keep myself active and healthy. God created us with bodies, and one day He will redeem us fully and make us in a new creation, bodies included. Taking care of the body God has given me is a way to give back to Him. Doing this also gives me more energy to serve my husband and other people. It helps me personally to feel better, physically and mentally.
Saying a quick prayer before, and sometimes during, my runs helps me to adjust my mindset so that I can better honor God in the things that I am doing.
I challenge you to strive to adopt a mentality of constantly shifting and re-shifting your focus onto God.
Dedicate the things you are doing to Him, whether that’s going to work, completing an assignment for a class, having a conversation, or investing in a relationship. When you commit your day to Jesus, He works through you so that He will be known in the process. He steers you towards activities and people that will foster godliness and away from snares that will trip you up.
Keeping this Jesus-centered mentality sets us up to be smart and to win more and more battles against our enemies of selfishness and lust.
Related: How to Deal with Secret Lust
Two Types of Days
Some days, I’m in the mood to go for a run. The weather is really nice, I’ve fueled my body, and I feel ready to exercise. And I come home feeling accomplished.
Not all days go this smoothly. I’ve also had plenty of days where I just don’t feel like running. I put it off as long as I can in the day. And when I’m running, I feel lousy, stiff, and weak.
Both of these days will happen, and both of them are okay. What matters, as a runner, is that I recognize that this pattern is normal, that I give myself grace on both types of days, and that I still resolve to run both when I feel like it and when I don’t.
The balance of disciple and grace is such an important part of being victorious, both as an athlete and as a follower of Christ. What this means for all of us striving to honor Jesus and forsake our sin is that we need to realize that on some days, doing well and resisting temptation will come much more easily than it will on others.
Temptation will happen. This is a part of being human in a fallen world given over to the control of Evil. Some days, we fight well and the enemy backs off. But on other days, he knows we are weak and prone to fall, and he hits us hard.
On good days, we need to choose to remain focused on God so that we will not grow lazy or prideful, and so that we will continue to be thankful. On bad days, we need to be disciplined enough to look to Jesus and accept His strength and grace, even when it would be easy to give in.
Press on and fight even when you don’t think you can anymore. Find Jesus in the hardship and He will give you the strength you need so desperately.
So, when easy and when tough days happen, choose to push through, to battle well. Whichever kind of day it is, don’t “skip your run”.
I always mentally split my runs into intervals of five minutes. When I first started running regularly, it would overwhelm me to think, “I’m going to go out and run for half an hour without stopping.” That was three years ago, but I have kept up the mentality of the five-minute chunks.
The way this works is that I focus on completing five-minute segments at a time, and I basically ignoring the remaining time to go. Once I finish five minutes, I’ll think, “Okay, now get the next five.” I do this until I finish, one part at a time.
Breaking up a large, overwhelming task into smaller pieces can be a successful way to help you mentally adjust to a daunting goal. If you regularly watch pornography and are struggling to break free from it, the prospect of never watching it again can seem impossible. The same goes for entertaining lustful thoughts, or masturbating, or looking twice, or any other sin really.
Until we are in the New Creation with Jesus, made perfect forever, we will still sin. But He has given us His Holy Spirt so that we have the ability not to sin if we rely on Him and take action. Jesus sets us free from the bondage of sin, and He can do that for you too.
Know that being free from your sexual bondage is possible. When you feel overwhelmed by the seeming impossibility of that concept, set small goals for yourself. Try, “I will reach out to a friend anytime I feel like masturbating today” or “I won’t go on my phone or computer again for the rest of the night.”
When you attain these goals, great! Thank the Lord and use these small wins as points to bolster yourself up. And then keep going; set the next goal and achieve that. Embrace this mentality as a way to bring about gradual, meaningful, and long-lasting victory.
Running to Win
Paul writes in 1 Timothy 4:8 that “physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1) Keeping perspective, (2) realizing that there will be good and difficult days, and (3) setting small goals are three mindsets that will provide victory in the athletic arena, but in a much more significant sense, in our spiritual lives.
Choosing to adopt these three principles will allow for greater success in battling the sins of selfishness and lust.
The V in PROVEN stands for “Victorious in Living.” Victory brings to mind the defeat of an enemy, of waging war and winning. Victory is deliberate and tactical. It involves the wise use of strategy and of resources to accomplish a goal. It means surrounding ourselves with the protection of our God and with the community and accountability of those around us.
When we are intentional about looking to Jesus and we take steps to live for Him, the victory that He died to give us will be ours.
Allie Joy Hudson is first and foremost a daughter of the King. She graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and minors in Spanish and Psychology. Allie completed her Senior Honors Thesis on the presentation of postmodern sexuality in short fiction and has also been published in two of Liberty University’s other online journals, The Kabod and Aidenn. She enjoys reading, writing, playing the viola, singing, musical theatre, photography, and Zumba. She is passionate about her ever-growing C.S. Lewis collection, cultivating relationships, and proclaiming truth in the twisted arena of postmodern sexuality. Allie was raised in Maryland and is overjoyed to be married to the love of her life.