It’s quitting time. After a eight hours of staring at my computer screen, talking on the phone to clients, and reinforcing my slouch position, I prepare for my post-work run. Closing the door and window blinds to my office gives me a moment of privacy while I change into my running gear. I shut down the computer, pack my bag, and head out the door. Today’s run is on an easy 4 miles of rolling hard pack dirt lined with trees along low creek.
I roll into the dirt parking lot, lock the car, start my GPS tracker, and begin. I’m not really motivated today. If anything, I’m sleepy from the eyestrain caused by beams of light projecting from my computer into my eyes. I work to throw off the fatigue during the first mile, but my heart rate remains low and my pace slow. It would be easy to stop and go home, but something keeps me running.
In the Book of Romans, the author challenges Christians to be different, not conform to the world around them (Rom 12:2). As a minority group in the dominant Roman empire, Christians were to live differently than their surrounding culture. Romans 12:9-21 contains a list of counter-cultural characteristics.
While there are many differences between living at the time of Rome and today, the cultural characteristics are not necessarily foreign to us. The call to hospitality seems relevant today in a world where few ever invite people into their homes. Restraining ourselves from revenge conflicts with our litigious, stand up for your rights society. And, refraining from conceit and pride can be difficult with my cool event medals and the 70.3 sticker on my car.
Usually, living like a Christian is easy because I’ve been doing it for so many years. But sometimes, every fiber in my body shouts “it’s not worth it!” I’d rather go on a rambling bike ride than feign friendliness at church on Sunday. It’s easier to harbor resentment when my rights are infringed upon, than to forgive. And, why not broadcast my achievements like everyone else?
So, what keeps me running when I’m ready to quit? The charge to continue includes the secret phrase in verse 2 — “renewing of your mind”. The mind leads the body. A mind that understands the value of the training can overcome the bodily desire to spend the evening hours watching movies and eating BBQ potato chips. In a triathlon, the mind can throw off the fatigue and remind the body that quitting means getting a DNF (did not finish) posted on an internet web site which never goes away.
A renewed mind purges the ordinary responses by remembering that I’ve chosen a different way. Love is bigger than hate. Forgiveness is stronger than anger. And, training is better than sitting. On the tree lined path, I remember that short-term pain is worth the effort and part of the transformation. So, I keep running.