Which Side Are You Running On?

Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of you mind.”

 

Cars approaching you closer and closer. Zooming past you, just inches away. It’s enough to usher in a wave of fear, wondering if you’ll get plowed over. It can feel downright awkward and vulnerable. This just seems backward. You feel like every driver is staring you down. For safety, runners are urged to run on the left side of the road—facing traffic. Huh? It doesn’t make sense! It would feel much more comfortable to run with the flow of traffic rather than against it.

The truth is you’re doing the right thing by running against traffic. Running on the left shoulder facing oncoming traffic is much safer than having cars at your back. In most states, it’s not even a matter of choice; the law requires that runners face oncoming traffic. Oncoming traffic can better see you. If you ran on the right side of the road, you couldn’t see what’s coming behind you. Distracted drivers (texting or looking at their phones) won’t be able to see you until the last-minute. Or in some cases, won’t see you at all until it’s too late.

Runners who run with traffic are dangerously putting themselves at high risk. So the best way to prevent an untimely meeting with a vehicle is to be able to see them. And that means you must run against the traffic and ignore what appears to be a comfortable pattern.

As followers of Christ, we are called to stand out from the world. We are set apart. That means we don’t conform to the ways of our culture. The spirit of this world opposes the ways of God. The spirit of this world is wrapped around pleasing self. People who are not God-driven are caught up in the whirlwind of a dangerous traffic pattern. Its force is strong. At times it may even look appealing, beckoning us to join in. If we aren’t careful, we can get distracted. Before we know it, we’re caught up in the rushing current of sin. And then we think it’s no big deal because everyone’s doing it. This is the path everyone is traveling, so it must be right.

Just as runners go against the flow of traffic for physical safety, we must resolve to walk the narrow path for the life of our soul. As tempting as it may be to blend in with the world, we must commit our lives to walk as Jesus did. We must embrace the path He has laid out for us. This path will not look like that of our unbelieving neighbors and coworkers. This path will not be popular. This path will not feel comfortable. On the contrary, this path will feel awkward. It will cause us to feel very vulnerable before others. Walking this path will go against every fleshly desire welling up inside us. But this is the path we must embrace if we are true followers of Christ.

Hurting people in this world will notice us plain as day. Broken hearts will be drawn to the hope radiating out of us. Empty souls will turn in our direction, longing to be filled. But they won’t notice us if we’re blending in with the traffic pattern of the world.

READY? As a follower of Christ, which side of the road are you running on? When are you tempted to blend in with the world? What is your response when it feels everything is against you? What steps can you take to confidently run your race of faith on the righteous path God has laid out?

GET SET. Proverbs 16:25 “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”

 GO! Lord Jesus, this world is a tough place to live in. It’s so easy to get caught up in the flow of what seems right. I desperately cry out to you and ask you to strengthen me. Help me to be brave and walk the path you’ve laid out for me. Help me to be faithful even when it feels like I’m alone. Amen.

 

Man jogging on road, car approaching, dusk

If you enjoyed this post, check out my devotional book!

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

Who’s Behind You?

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Huffing and puffing to catch my breath, I came to a halt. Wiping sweat off my brow and looking at my watch, I felt a twinge of disappointment wash over me. My pace was slower than normal for our group’s weekly long run. Seven miles done. Trying to figure out what had slowed me down, I began walking toward my car.

Hey! Wait up!” I heard an unfamiliar voice calling out to me.

Turning around, a woman approached me with a smile on her face. “I was following you the whole time. You’ve got a pretty consistent pace.”

Huh? Someone was following me?

I’m training for my first half-marathon. I’m excited but very nervous too!”

After introductions, we struck up a conversation and I gave her some tips for training. With five half-marathons under my belt, I felt confident in guiding my new friend on her unfamiliar journey.

No matter what your pace is, there’s always going to be someone running behind you. Brand new runners venturing out for the very first time. Runners lacking confidence. Runners who don’t know what’s up ahead. Runners who are watching your every move to see how you’re running your race. These runners are in the same spot you used to be. Yes, there is someone always running behind you whether you notice them or not.

In our race of faith, there is someone running behind you, dear friend. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the pace of our own race that we forget to stop and turn around to help those running behind us. There are people watching us whether we realize it or not. People who are new Christians just starting out. People who are stuck in a rut and need some encouragement. People walking a path you’ve already navigated through. But do we ever slow down our pre-calculated pace long enough to help someone else? Do we slow down long enough to walk alongside someone who is hurting?

We often may think our pain and suffering is in vain. As genuine followers of Christ, we can testify that God carries us with strength and pours his comfort on us during hard times. He does a work IN us during these seasons. But it doesn’t stop there! He longs to do something THROUGH us. He desires for us to embrace those behind us and point them to Him. To lovingly comfort them. To assure them they’re going to make it. This is what the body of Christ is called to do.

So who’s behind you, dear friend? If you have children, they are watching you whether you realize it or not. What about that young mom with multiple children? You might be an empty-nester who could encourage her with your insight and wisdom. Is there someone at work or in your neighborhood struggling through a season of life you’ve already traveled through? I promise you that you won’t have to look very long. There will always be someone beginning to crawl onto a path you’ve just finished running. Ask God to show you. And don’t be surprised when they soak up your encouragement like a breath of fresh air.

READY? Do you find yourself too preoccupied with your own pace in life? Genuinely pray and ask God to show you who’s behind you at this season of life. What is the next step you can take to pour into that person? If you’re feeling anxious, ask God for his peace!

GET SET.  Romans 15:1 “We who are strong in faith should help the weak with their weaknesses, and not please only ourselves.”

GO!  Heavenly Father, thank you for the reminder of past times when you’ve comforted me through difficult seasons. I praise you for giving me strength. Help me come out of my comfort zone and show me the people you want me to help. Give me courage and wisdom. I long to point others to the power you’ve given me. Amen

whosbehindyou

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

 

Are You Ready for Battle?

Ephesians 6:12 “Put on the full armor of God so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

The night before a race, adrenaline pumps through your body as anticipation builds. In preparation for running out the door at the crack of dawn, you strategically organize your gear just right. From head to toe, every single item is laid out in clear view to make sure nothing is overlooked: Hat, shirt, shorts, socks, shoes, anti-chafing cream, Ipod, and of course your GPS watch. If any of these items are forgotten, you’ll struggle to run your race. Each item has a distinct purpose—designed for a specific job to protect you. When your alarm blares loudly in the morning, you’re ready to grab your essentials and confidently head out the door. You can’t fathom not being prepared! You fully understand what’s at stake.

A hat protects you from the blistering sun. Your wicking shirt and shorts soak up moisture—keeping your skin dry. You’d never dream of wearing cotton! Your pricey running socks and cream are worth every penny, protecting your feet from blisters. Your running shoes give you ample support for pounding the pavement.  You’ve downloaded the perfect songs on your playlist, trusting they’ll motivate you throughout the race. Your GPS watch is fully charged, ready to keep you on track. A wise runner is fully prepared—ready to conquer the race ahead, like a soldier armed for battle.

But there’s another battle that should get our full attention. We’re told in Ephesians about a spiritual battle. This battle threatens every believer in Christ. It’s ugly. It’s fierce. Thankfully, this battle is one we don’t have to fight alone.

When it comes to preparing for this battle, are we putting as much emphasis on the armor of God as we are with our running gear? Do we intentionally ponder the powerful pieces of armor God has designed for us? Are we carelessly rushing into challenges and difficulties without any thought of our protection?  If so, we are setting ourselves up for disaster. And in this case the disaster is much more serious than sunburn and blisters!

Each piece of armor is designed with precision to arm us for battle. Our helmet of salvation symbolizes what Christ did for us on the cross. In Biblical times it stood for a sign of military strength.

The breastplate of righteousness allows us to walk confidently, not in our own power, but in the righteousness of Jesus.

What about the girdle of truth? Without this, we don’t stand a chance against the deception of the world and the ploys of the enemy. We must cling to the truth of who we are in Christ.

The shoes of peace we’re privileged to wear allow us to demonstrate love to a hurting world.

The shield of faith is the most important defensive weapon we have. It protects us in the heat of battle, extinguishing all the flaming arrows hurled our way from the enemy.

And last but not least, we must firmly grip the sword of the spirit—the only offensive weapon given to us. With it we demolish the temptations set out to distract and destroy us.

So the next time you’re laying out your physical running gear, let it remind you and inspire you to be prepared for the spiritual battle within your soul. Ready or not, the battle awaits you.

READY? Are you being intentional in putting on your spiritual armor? Reflect on each piece of armor and how it can empower you for your life’s challenges.  What steps do you need to take to ensure you’re completely dressed for battle?

SET. 1 Peter 5:8 “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (Also read Ephesians 6:13-18)

GO! Dear Jesus, thank you for giving me each piece of armor. I desperately come before you and ask you to remind me of the power you’ve given me through each of these.  Help me to humble myself as I put on each piece and walk victoriously each day of my life on this earth. Amen

RunnersGear

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

Where’s Your Water Stops?

Psalm 42:1 “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul thirsts for you, my God.”

Mile marker one. Mile marker three. Mile marker five. These are etched in your mind. Why? These are the official water stops for the race you’re training for. You know exactly where they are. For most races you can locate these specific locations online. They’re crucial. You wouldn’t survive without them. They aren’t just randomly placed without thought along the course. They are intentional. Purposeful. Strategically positioned exactly where they need to be. On race day, you breathe a sigh of relief as the first water stop comes into your view. Race volunteers line the road, each one holding out plastic cups of water. Grabbing the cup, you gulp down every last drop. Your thirst is immediately quenched. Feeling refreshed, you continue on with confidence, knowing there’s another water stop up ahead in a few more miles.

You would easily become dehydrated without your water stops. No matter how fast-paced you are, without water stops you would crash and burn. You know about how far you can run before your body needs water. Continue past that point and you start to wear down. Even when you’re training, you plan out when and where you’ll get water. Running around the block, maybe you put a bottle of water by your mailbox as you circle around a familiar path. Running with friends, perhaps you run a certain circuit and return to your cars for a fill-up. Sometimes organized groups set up tables for runners. Whatever the case may be, you strategically plan for water when you need to be refreshed.

Do we have the same urgency on our journey of faith? Do we intentionally plan spiritual water stops to quench the thirst of our weary souls? Refreshment is vital for the long road ahead.

What exactly does a water stop look like on one’s faith journey?

It could be worship services on the weekend. Perhaps it’s a weekly Bible study or an accountability group. Praying regularly with a small group. Meeting a fellow believer for coffee or calling a trusted friend. Each of these is purposeful—giving refreshment when we’re weary. They are like a pit stop on the journey of faith.

But waiting until things fall apart before seeking out these water stops would be like running aimlessly without any thought of where your water is going to come from! Just as the water stops on a race course are strategically positioned, we too as Christ followers must be intentional when it comes to discipleship and staying strong in our faith.

We get weary. Life happens. Sometimes it feels like a drought! We must be purposeful in planning out where we will stop to be renewed, refreshed and refueled!

READY? Can you identify specific water stops in your faith journey? Are you stopping often enough or do you need to add some more to your course? How does having water stops affect the level of peace and hope you have when things get tough? If you don’t have any water stops, pray and ask God to show you who, where and when they might be.

GET SET. 1 John 1:7  “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

GO! Heavenly Father, I praise you for being my ultimate water stop on my path of life. Help me to humbly embrace the water stops you’ve put into my life. Help me reach out to others when I’m feeling weary. Thank you for refreshing my soul with the power of your word. Amen!

water stops

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

Through the Storm

Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you…”

I absolutely love running under a clear-blue sky, sun beaming overhead. Cold weather? No problem. But I utterly despise running in the rain. If it’s raining the least little bit during training, I happily opt for my elliptical machine or head to an indoor track.

Two years ago I trained for the Country Music half-marathon in Nashville. The day before the race, the weather forecast did not look favorable. The 95% chance of rain left a slim possibility for clear skies. I prayed like crazy for those gloomy clouds to quickly disappear. In one final, desperate plea I prayed for the rain to at least hold off until I finished my race. Come on God, really? Can’t you make it stop raining for just a few hours? Don’t you know I hate running in the rain?

As it got closer to our start time, the weather forecast remained the same and I had to finally accept the sad reality…I was going to get wet. Anxiously pulling a rain-poncho over my body, I hoped this flimsy piece of plastic would keep me dry from the raging downpour. Boy was I wrong! Huddling up together with a sea of 30,000 runners, I anxiously awaited my turn to arrive at the start line. The steady rain drenched my socks and shoes as I inched my way forward. Before the race ever started I was soaked to the bone. After a grueling thirty-minute wait, I was finally off and running. The driving rain felt like a torrential flood as I sloshed through puddles the entire thirteen miles of that race.

Halfway through the race I flung off the heavy rain poncho. My attempt to stay dry proved futile. The sound of rain drumming the pavement almost drowned out the music I was listening to on my IPod. But I could still hear the gentle whisper of my Heavenly Father above the noise.

Lisa, just as I am with you in this pouring rain, I am with you through all the storms of your life. Sometimes I calm the storm around you. But sometimes I allow you to go through it. Although you’ll get wet, I promise to be with you.

Drenched and shivering on the outside, I finished the race. But an inward peace had saturated my soul, ushered in by God’s truth. Once you’ve run through a constant downpour, the scattered showers don’t seem to bother you as much as they did before. And the same is true in our walk of faith. Once we’ve waddled through a heart-wrenching storm, we come out stronger on the other side. Our faith grows. Our perspective changes. The key verse in Isaiah doesn’t say if you pass through the waters; it clearly says when. And we lean harder on Him because we know He’ll be with us through it all.

So what about you, dear friend? What storm of life are you sloshing through? Are you begging God to remove your difficult circumstances? Are you trying to protect yourself from “getting wet” with your own human devices? Or can you humbly accept that He might take you through the storm? Maybe you’re drenched at the start line and the storm is raging. Maybe you’re in the middle and you feel as if you’ll drown in worry and fear. No matter where you are or whatever the storm is, He promises to carry us through it.

READY?  Can you identify some past storms God has brought you through? How can you apply the insight you gained to a current storm you are in now? If you’ve been resisting a storm, can you embrace it with absolute trust in God? The next time you’re running in the rain, ponder the truth of how God is with you always.

GET SET.  Matthew 5:45 “…He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

GO!  Heavenly Father, I confess my selfish desire for you to remove all the storms in my life. Help me to trust you when your plan is not to calm the storm, but to calm my anxious heart in the midst of the storm. Thank you for promising to walk with me through all the storms of my life. Amen

run-in-the-rain

 

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

Embracing Our Day of REST

Exodus 20:8-10 “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God.”

Runners follow a strict training schedule if a race is on the horizon. Short runs. Strength training. Cross training. And of course the weekly long runs. All of these pieces of the runner’s puzzle work together, each one fulfilling a specific role to ensure success. But something crucial that simply can’t be overlooked is the day of REST. Most training schedules have this word in bold letters, calling attention to its importance. At first I didn’t’ understand why this day of rest was part of the runner’s world. Shouldn’t I be doing something ? What if I got behind earlier in the week and needed to squeeze in a quick three-mile run or weight lifting session? Couldn’t I use that day to get ahead in my training? What could it possibly hurt? Besides, I didn’t even feel tired.

It is no surprise that the day of rest comes the day after a long run. Your physical body must have that day to recuperate from the stress placed upon it. It’s a crucial day to recover. A day to let your legs relax, unwinding from the persistent impact of constantly pounding the pavement. A runner’s body needs this time to repair and recover. Miss this day and you’re setting yourself up for injury. Ignore the warning and you’ll regret it later.

Just as our physical bodies require rest to recover, our souls desperately need a day of rest for renewal. After a full week of living at a break-neck pace, we must slow down. We must simply be still in the presence of God. We must pull away from our hectic schedule. We must unplug from the rest of the world–basking in His loving presence. We must put to death the nagging urge to use this day of rest to get caught up on things—to get ahead. No dear friend, our God designed us to rest. He set the example for us when He created the world. This day of rest is included in the ten commandments to His people. If God set the pace for us in this area, then shouldn’t we embrace it and obediently follow suit?

But I have so much to do! I need to get caught up on work, errands and projects!  I feel so guilty resting when everything is piling up!

He calls us to unplug from the crazy pace we attempt to survive in and beckons us to simply sit at his feet.  He wants to recharge us. Renew us. Refresh us. But He can’t do this if we ignore our day of rest. We bypass many blessings when we ignore the call to rest. Just as a runner’s physical body will suffer harm without rest, our souls will ache deeply and our faith will be weakened. When you see the word REST on your training schedule, let it be a reminder to embrace the day of rest God created for YOU.

READY? How are you doing with carving out a day of rest from your busy schedule? Is it easier for you to justify a physical rest compared to a rest for your soul? Why or why not? What do you need to change to allow this day of rest?

GET SET. Matthew 11:28 Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.

GO! Lord Jesus, I struggle sometimes with embracing a day of rest in the quick-paced culture we live in. Help me to slow down and pull away from the cares of this world. Please help me to embrace this day to worship you and be renewed by your peace. Thank you for designing my life with a built-in desire to rest in your presence. Amen

Runner-relaxing-in-grass

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

A Time to Run and a Time to Walk

Isaiah 40:31 “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” 

Many runners can run continuously from start to finish without ever slowing down. But that strategy doesn’t fit everyone. When training for my first half-marathon, I’d gotten up to four miles without stopping. My heart soared with pride, but my knees seared with pain! After getting advice from seasoned runners, I attempted a strategy from expert, Jeff Galloway. His premise is that if you incorporate short walks in between spurts of running, you’ll avoid exhaustion and injury. It also conserves your body’s resources and allows for quicker recovery.

Now I run for five minutes and walk for one minute. After falling into this routine, I realized two crucial things. First, this strategy gave my knees a rest in between my spurts of running. I was able to increase my mileage each week without any further discomfort. No pain! Second, I realized these short breaks of walking gave me a mental break. Instead of thinking, Wow—I’ve got to run multiple miles today, it was easier to think, Okay—I can run for the next five minutes; but then I’ll get a break. I embraced this strategy! Much more doable than running full force without stopping.

Who are we to think we can keep running and not slow down on this journey of faith we find ourselves on? We falsely think we can keep going at a break-neck pace, but God designed us to intentionally slow down at specific times on our race of faith. One minute walks paint a picture of our time to be still with God. Life is often weary. We feel as if we’ll faint at the next announcement of bad news. We are so easily overcome with stress, worry and anxiety. But when we continue at full steam with no intention of slowing down, we feel overcome with exhaustion and pain we simply can’t handle.

We must be intentional in carving out time with Jesus. Time to rest. Time to be renewed and refreshed. Time to just be still in His presence. We’re called to soar like an eagle, not rage mindlessly like a hamster on a wheel. Our quiet time with Him prepares us to go back out on the course of life and keep going. Our time in prayer keeps us connected with Him, allowing us to breathe easier when life unexpectedly shakes us up.

This whole run/walk approach gives us a new perspective on how we ought to view the challenges that seem insurmountable at different seasons of life. When it says in Isaiah that we soar on wings like an eagle, it means we get an eagle’s perspective. Just as an eagle soars above the storm and sees the bigger picture, we too can get that same perspective if our hope is truly in God. So when I get overwhelmed with a long-term challenge facing me, I can choose to run and not grow weary. I can choose to walk and not faint. Why? Because my hope is in Him.

Ready? Is there an area of your life in which God is asking you to slow down? Where do you need to walk with God instead of running in your own strength? Take time to be still before Him so He can give you the eagle’s perspective.

Get Set. Proverbs 4:12 “When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.”

Go!  Lord Jesus, please help me to slow down and be still before you. Forgive me for the times I haven’t paused in your presence and sought your help. I humbly ask you to renew my strength. When I’m weary and faint, help me to thank you for the hope you’ve promised me. Amen

walkingshoes

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

http://www.reststopforthesoul.com