I recently ran a Spartan Super Race in Michigan. It was a 9.2 mile course with 20+ obstacles. The thing of it is, I’m not a runner. Since having back surgery for a herniated disc in 2012, Ive been cautious about pounding the pavement. Add to that a few other orthopedic issues and a general aversion to running and I won’t be signing up for the Boston marathon anytime soon. But, I decided to do some Spartan races after dropping 50 lbs last year. Still, I’m not the fastest guy out there.
At one point during the race (I think between miles 5 and 6), people started passing me and I had an epiphany. I took a look at the beautiful Michigan landscape, thought about how great it felt being able to run that particular race, and realized that, regardless of who passed me, I was grateful and content.
There was, to be sure, a brief moment of disappointment at being passed (call it my competitive nature kicking in). That disappointment faded giving way to a time of silent prayer and worship. I thanked God for the beauty of his creation, the blessing of my supportive family, the physical ability to run a course this long even after some of my physical challenges.
It was a wonderful moment of clarity. It was also one of the few moments in my life I can remember when I was truly grateful for what God has given me and content with my own accomplishment or performance.
I would admit to having a strained relationship with God on that account. It is not uncommon for me, as I’ve noted in other posts, to be dissatisfied with my career and to feel I’m capable (perhaps deserving) of more from a professional perspective. That discontentment has made me far less cable of seeing the amazing blessings God has provided in my life and career. My professional life has often so consumed my attention that I neglect my family, my health, and my relationship with God.
I’d love to believe that my moment of clarity during the Spartan race will translate into every other moment of my life…but I don’t. Instead, I believe that cultivating an attitude of gratitude and contentment that permeates all aspects of my life will take time. It will require me to think more theologically about the world, to fight to see God move and act, and to recognize His presence with me.
Following Christ isn’t about isolated moments…it’s about allowing God to overwhelm us in every moment. I’m thankful for the moment I had during the race (fleeting as it was), but I look forward in anticipation to God’s overwhelming presence in other moments as I fight for contentment and gratitude despite my own tendencies. My prayer is that God will overwhelm us all reminding us of His wisdom, power, and benevolence.