They are in the final stretch.
Hearts, lungs, and muscles are working hard to keep up with the demands for more oxygen. Their legs are either rubber or concrete, and they can’t imagine how they can possibly turn it up one more notch.
“Turn it up a notch!” I yell.
At this point we are all running backwards around a high-school track, well before dawn.
Six weeks prior, I had asked this group of athletes to run and skip backwards, and they had responded with terrified hostage stares, shaking their heads noooo000 as if that might grant them mercy.
“But Kim, it’s dark, and we might fall…” they had whimpered as they starting shuffling backwards at the speed of granny. Oh my. It’s fortunate I didn’t shoot one of them as an example for the rest.
But with plenty of practice, moving backwards and sideways has become almost as natural and as fast as moving forwards, (Here’s a tip. Don’t know how to do something?Practice!) and now they are all running backwards at full speed, physically spent, and I expect them to turn it up a notch and give a little more.
I’m waiting for something. I’m looking for a physical response to a mental decision. Each athlete is being given another opportunity this morning to look deep inside and tell her body to go faster when she doesn’t know if it’s physically possible. Will she do it? Can she turn it up just one notch? Will her body respond?
I run next to them, watching for signs of strength or despair or fear. I find joy.
“How can you not get in shape doing this?” I cheer.
“You are doing what you need to do to change your shape. You are here. You are doing something hard and good. How can you have any regrets at this moment?”
A few weeks ago, my pastor reminded me that if I want to get hit by a car, I need to go stand in the middle of a highway. He’s a nice guy, really.
“If you really want to get yourself hit by a car” he said, “Don’t go stand on a sidewalk or tiptoe around on a trail. Go lie down in the middle of a busy interstate, and it will most certainly happen.” His point to the congregation was that if we want something to happen, we need to put ourselves in the places where it will most certainly happen. If we want to know God and his people, we must put ourselves in church, read his Word, learn to pray, etc. because that is where it will most certainly happen.
Do I even need a segue here?
Getting in shape is a physical response to a mental decision. Are you putting yourself in the middle of the highway, or are you tiptoeing through the tulips hoping to get hit by a car?
Great joy to you today as you turn it up a notch! It’s hard and good. You won’t regret it.