About 14 months ago, I started running – a lot. Not quite Forrest Gump amount of running, but something like 21 miles a week. In that time I also plodded my way through a half marathon.
Every time I run, it never fails that I become aware of my frailty. My heart could cramp up, my knees cold crumble beneath me, or a vessel in my brain could let loose. None of these things are in my control.
Running reminds me of my weakness.
And awareness of my weakness focuses me on my dependence upon God.
I’m not one of those people that think following God is going cause me to run farther or finish the next half marathon in less time. But I do believe that acknowledging weakness is the key to drawing near to God. My self-righteousness is inadequate to win me favor with God. My false identity is insufficient to cover my shame.
It is God who grafts me into the vine, I am incapable of grafting myself in.
That is why I think Paul uses the imagery of the race and physical training so often. Nothing challenges our feelings of invincibility quite like a physical challenge. As someone trains their body or runs the race to win, they become acutely aware of their weakness and inadequacy.
That is a true picture of the race we run as spiritual beings.
What activity puts you most in touch with your weakness?