Energy Boost: Running Like Holly
Apr 24, 2016 02:43AM
By Bonnie Lyn Smith
I had just finished reminding my children to be careful with my cousin’s beagle Holly. She has some spinal issues that give her pain once in a while. We’re used to being rough and tumble with our ornery Shih Tzus, but around Holly, we aim for being more delicate.
Imagine my surprise when, outside, Holly suddenly took off in a beagle dash across the side yard, giving chase like there’s no tomorrow.
I got the distinct feeling she was giving us her best, showing us what she could do, impressing us.
How does a fragile dog suddenly pick herself up and run like a strong, youthful puppy?
Motivation. Who is she running for?
Where does she get the sudden strength when she’s otherwise a bit weak?
That’s an interesting question, isn’t it?
How about you? Who are you running for? What motivates you to be your very best?
Like Holly, I’ve been a bit fragile in recent months. I had some pieces of myself to put back together again. Know the feeling? I lacked inspiration at times. I lost the spring in my step.
Then along came people who reflected so much of Christ’s love to me that I could see my Father in heaven through those experiences. It made me want to jump up immediately and run to please Him. It reminded me of the good God who loves me, who works all things together for my good.
Romans 8:28, ESV, Apostle Paul speaking
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
We sometimes get so caught up in the discouragements of life that we slow down, settling for mediocre living.
Maybe we’ve been stung too many times, so we become cautious and distrusting. We fear.
Because God cares so much for us, He sends some inspiration to remind us He is worth running for, running toward.
1 Corinthians 9:24, ESV, Apostle Paul speaking
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
When we see something stand out, a prize sparkling so brightly we want to “obtain it,” we suddenly find that wind in our sails to carry us where we need to go.
Isaiah promises that when we wait for the Lord, making Him what we hone in on, we have renewal of strength; we will not grow weary or faint. That’s the kind of marathon I want to participate in: one where I don’t grow weak and am fortified along the way.
Isaiah 40:31, ESV, Isaiah the
But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
Do any other races in our lives promise us that?
These are not bad things in and of themselves, but they certainly don’t promise to fill us up and restore us. Only God offers us that.
When life beats me over the head with nonstop activity, emotional pain or disappointment, a sudden worry or concern, fear, frustration, or loss, I can easily stumble.
I can stumble into sin, lack of faith, escaping behaviors, bitterness, or complacency. Really, it doesn’t take that much, does it? I trip over myself just to get the coffee machine turned on in the wee hours of the morning. We often can be in our own way.
King Solomon speaks to his son, but these words also echo the heart of our Father in heaven for His children. Notice the actions required before the blessing:
Hear: Open your ears!
Accept: Open your heart!
And there is the motivation woven throughout. He seems to know us well enough to sprinkle some in the beginning.
That the years of your life may be many.
When you walk, your step will not be hampered.
If you run, you will not stumble.
Perhaps most importantly in these verses, He offers us a history lesson of His love and goodness. He reminds us He equipped us for this, should we choose to run:
I have taught you the way of wisdom.
I have led you in the paths of uprightness.
Proverbs 4:10-12, ESV, King Solomon speaking
Hear, my son, and accept my words, that the years of your life may be many.
I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness.
When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble.
I love that we aren’t left to train on our own. This Psalmist acknowledges his own human frailty and limitations, while simultaneously testifying that God will and does “enlarge his heart.” Isn’t that a beautiful sentiment? We need God to infuse us with His mighty love and strength before we can fully run in His commandments and ministry.
Psalm 119:32, ESV, Psalmist unknown
I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!
I see a very specific prayer in that. When we limp along emotionally, mentally, spiritually, or even physically, like Holly the beagle, we can and should cry out:
“Enlarge my heart, Lord! I want to get back in, remain in, and finish this race for You. Amen.”
The Apostle Paul uses the running analogy when he refers to how he spent his life in ministry and “kept the faith.” He refers to it as a race worth running for.
2 Timothy 4:7, ESV, Apostle Paul speaking
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
I think it’s wise to ask ourselves:
- What race are we in?
- Where do we draw our strength from?
- Who is worth running after?
Holly the beagle knew the unconditional love of my cousin and her husband and that our family, her guests, were worth a good dash across the yard. To me, she is Holly the Super Beagle and may as well wear a cape! I’ve never seen a dog run like that before, especially not one with back troubles!
What about God? Are we willing to put our faith in His promises, knowing that when we run for Him, He renews us and gives us everything we need?
No matter how incapable or downtrodden I may feel at times, I want to enter and remain in the same race as the Apostle Paul. The more I see glimpses of my Father’s love in His Word (the Bible), prayer time, worship, or even through other people on His mission, I want to drop everything and run into His arms!
In the film Chariots of Fire, 1924 Olympic track athlete Eric Liddell declared: “When I run I feel His pleasure.”
His pleasure: I can’t think of a better reason, motive, or prize.
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about parenting, marriage, mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, the healing cloak of Jesus, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
Her book, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, offers anecdotes on all of these subjects and Scripture for each situation as well as Book Discussion Questions for deeper exploration.