Windows into the Light by Michael Sullivan

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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Tuesday, December 9

By your endurance you will gain your souls.
—Luke 21:19

I love to run. There’s just something about putting yourself out there and pushing beyond your comfort zone that is freeing, liberating, healing. When I break through the second wall—that incredible need for a second wind—I feel more alive than at any other time. Everything about it is exhilarating.

But I did not come to this place naturally. I much prefer to be in control of my surroundings, and more importantly, outcomes. I like knowing what will happen, when it will occur, and how I will get there. But running isn’t that way at all. Running requires vulnerability, and at its core, vulnerability is about giving up control.

I started running seriously after I was challenged by a friend to compete in a triathlon. I had been a casual runner for years, running 3 miles or so a few times a week. But to train for the race, I had to increase my running to 5, 10, 15 miles. And what a trek it was. The short runs were a breeze. Go out, run, enjoy. Building for the longer runs was grueling.

After several weeks, I had built a better base. But going out one Saturday morning for a 15-mile run, I had no idea what I was in for. Nothing prepares you mentally for the real second wall. I thought I had been there. I hadn’t. When I ran that morning, something strange happened at about mile 8. It came on slowly, and then I felt a piercing sensation in my diaphragm. Everything in my body said, “Stop.” But I pushed on. Notice the “I.” I pushed on. That was a major mistake.

In pushing myself, I drove more adrenaline into my body and my heart rate climbed higher. My friend yelled at me—“Let go, man! Relax. Let go!” And miraculously, I did. I let go, and in so doing I accepted my vulnerability. I did not have to do this on my own. I could let go, let God, and be a human being. In pain, yes, but not in control. My pulse softened, my breath returned, and pushing through the wall, I ran the next 7 miles more easily than the first.

It’s the same with our spiritual lives. Endurance must be a part of the journey. Life will not be easy. Questions will not be simple. We will want to stop and just sit along the pathway sometimes. But when we let go and let God guide, when we can let God provide our breath and our life, we gain the endurance God wants for each of us in our lives. In the process, our vulnerability comes to the surface, and ironically, we become strong. Not of ourselves, but as children of God. In that process, we regain our souls.

So run with endurance the race that is set before you. Run, relax, let go. And there, you’ll discover your soul.

God, you run with me each day. Show me the pathway of your grace, and giving myself over to you, let me discover my vulnerability and find my soul resting in you. Amen.