By Kellyann Bowman
“…let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” Hebrews 12:1b
“Run in such a way that you may win.” 1 Corinthians 9:24b
About 6 months ago, give or take, I started exercising. I was 45 years old and 100 pounds overweight and I wasn’t being a good steward of the gift given to me called my body. Early in January, God convicted me of this when I was asked to be part of a mission team going to Nicaragua and He spoke so clearly to me that He wanted me to go but He couldn’t send me in the shape I was in at the time. I had a choice: stay heavy and at home, get healthy and get launched. I chose to get healthy.
Through the help of three amazing sisters in Christ, I started walking. I felt SO old and SO fat, quite honestly, that just walking 1 mile felt like a hike. These women, truly blessings from God, came beside me and encouraged me, cheered me and walked with me. I’m way below their physical capacity and you know what, they didn’t care. They saw a sister who need help and they helped.
At first, that ugly monster comparison reared its head. As we would walk, I would think about all the ways I wasn’t as good as they were. I was moving but I was chained to a defeated self-image that was drowning in the muck and mire of comparison. As we walked, we talked and it didn’t take long to realize that though I was looking at their outward appearance and feeling like they had it all put together, we were facing many of the same challenges in life and our walks with Jesus. So, the chains of comparison started breaking and not only were amazing friendships developing, but my weight was dropping!
Fast forward six months to yesterday. I woke up at 5 a.m. and headed out the door to attend my first 5k run by myself. Up this point, I had done four other 5k walks with friends with no big goals in mind for each. They were primarily fun. Yesterday was different. Yesterday I was taking on an Irongirl 5k run and I wanted to do my best and come in under an hour. As I was getting ready and driving in, the chains of comparison and fear started tightening their grip and several times, I almost turned around.
Fear of being at this race by myself. Fear of looking like a poser because my brain was telling me I was too fat and old. Fear of being the last person over the finish line. Comparing myself to the people who looked like the “belonged” there, not me. The weight was crushing quite honestly. I was there to show myself, and my daughter and my friends, that I could be more and do more. That God could and HAD transformed me not only on the inside but on the outside. I hadn’t factored in that the enemy would be right there trying to stop me. So, I text my friends and cried out for prayer.
They prayed and I ran. I felt sick to my stomach when we started jogging out of the starting gate. Runner after runner passed me by and for the first few hundred feet, I still considered quitting. I felt so defeated. Then I looked up. I looked up at the beautiful sunrise, the gorgeous red-orange reflecting off of Lake Washington and I started praying. “Lord Jesus, this is the race you have set before me today. Be my strength. Help me not look behind me to see how far back I am. Help me keeping looking ahead, pressing ahead and moving ahead.” I repeated this over and over. Not kidding…over and over.
I never once allowed myself to look behind and that was TOUGH! I wanted to so badly and yet, I kept my eyes focused forward and my mind focused on the cross. God was asking me to trust Him in this race and I wasn’t going to do anything less than my best. My heart didn’t want to come in last but I was determined to praise God if that happened.
I ran and walked for the 3.2 miles and all the while, I was thinking about my race in life. Thinking about how much time I’ve spent chained to comparison and fear and how tired I was feeling from that weight. So with each step, I was crushing those chains. Each step making me stronger. Each step drawing me closer to the cross and pulling me further away from the chains. As I huffed and puffed my way up the last hill and 2.5 miles, it was like saying goodbye to the weight of the chains. Through the strength of my Redeemer, I had conquered fear and comparison in this one setting and that meant that I could do it in other areas of my life. I was not only moving out the grip of the chains, I was stepping into living unchained!
In the end, I didn’t come in last and I know that if I had, it would have been ok. My place in the race doesn’t affect God’s love for me or the love of my friends and family. And, I did meet my goal of an 18 minute mile coming in under an hour at 54 minutes and 20 seconds! Elated isn’t a big enough word for how I felt.
We are all running a race in life but it’s not against each other, it’s against the enemy’s voice in our heads. His desire is to stop you in your tracks, stop you from getting where God has pointed you and stop you from living unchained. Don’t let that happen. Be bold in Jesus, move out into those spaces you know He is calling and move past the fear and comparison. God has so much more in store for you than you can even remotely imagine and it won’t happen if you don’t activate your faith and allow Him to unchain you. God is able where you aren’t, don’t doubt that ever.
If you need a prayer partner, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Run in God’s love, grace, peace and mercy. He will lead you to victory in your race!
Kellyann Bowman lives in the Greater Seattle area with her teenage daughter. She is founder and director of a non-profit organization focused on meeting immediate needs and building community. She’s following God’s call on her life to help people live unchained lives, free to fully follow God through writing, teaching and speaking. You can find more blogs by Kellyann at inextricablyreliant.com.
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