If you’ve ever trained for a marathon: sorry.
If you haven’t: don’t.
Actually ,you know what? The training for the marathon definetly wasn’t the worst part. I learned a lot about discipline and perseverance and such. I remember my first run over 15 miles. I learned a lesson that I promised myself I would never forget. I was SO done and close to the end of my run, so I thought: if I walk for just a minute, it will help me run faster and be done sooner. Big mistake. HUGE.
The minute I started walking, every muscle started screaming and my knees locked up, as if they had suddenly been given the go ahead to quit. I tried stretching. I tried resting for a minute, but it was no good. I was useless. And as I limped my way back to my car I told myself: fabs, do not forget this when you’re running the marathon. Walking will not help you run. No matter how tempted you are to believe it, it’s a lie. Walking will not make you feel better. Walking will not give you rest.
And that lesson served me well in my marathon – at least in the beginning. The course was hillier than I expected so by mile 14 I was over it. The minute I had the thought that I couldn’t do this, the siren’s song began: the call to walk. The promise that if I walked – for just a minute – I would be able to run faster and further. And I shut my ears to it, recognizing it as a lie. But by mile 17 it was louder and I began wondering if maybe my experience in training had been an anomaly. Maybe if I just walked for a moment, I would have the energy to finish.
But I shook the thoughts out of my head, squeezed my eyes shut, kept my rhythm and said: Remember, fabs. Remember: walking will not help you run.
By mile 20, it seemed foolish to think that walking wouldn’t help. Of course walking would help! I would walk for just one minute, maybe for one song on my ipod, and then I would be ready to run again.
So, I slowed my job to a trot, and then I surrendered to a walk.
The end of this story is pretty predictable. The second my rhythm slowed to a walk I knew I had made a terrible mistake. I tried to limp back into a jog, but it was too late. That was impossible now. My legs had tasted rest and they were no longer willing participants. The pace had been lost. My feet rebelled at the suggestion of increased impact. And so I walked the last 6 miles of my marathon. Which of course, made the whole thing take longer: increasing the pain, not decreasing it & making my race harder, not easier.
And I can’t stop thinking about that today. Because I can feel the same lie whispering in my spiritual mind: Fabs. You just need a rest. You just need to stop. You need to lie down. Close the Bible, take a few days off from God. Take a few days off from fighting sin and apathy. Just rest.
I recently wrapped up a huge season of ministry. It seemed clear at the end of it that I needed a break. I needed a rest. But somewhere in my head – because of the trickery of our enemy and slipperiness of full time ministry – it’s easy to confuse a break from work with a break from God.
I’ve been running so fast and so furiously, that relaxing the discipline of being in the Word didn’t seem crazy. But even after a single day – I could already feel it – my spiritual limbs locking up. And when the next day came, the whisper seemed stronger and more compelling: just one more day off. Tomorrow will be the day I open the Word again. But tomorrow brings the same obstacles as today and with it comes a new kind of weariness in my soul and my fingers feel too feeble to turn the page. And by the time I know what has happened “maybe tomorrow” has hardened into “I’m over this.”
Rest from work. Rest from people. Rest from serving God. But rest in God, not from God. Rest in His Word, not from His Word. Rest in prayer, not from prayer.
Silence satan when he summons you to “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,”. Listen instead to our Savior speak “child, arise,” “awake, oh sleeper,” “run the race set before you.”