There are times when I hear God more clearly than others, and I’m sure that is true for you, as well. One of those times for me is when I’m running. There’s just something about it, be it the rhythm of my breathing or my feet hitting the ground, or the simple fact that I’m outside in His creation. My mind becomes clear and focused. There is nothing else. It is during these times He is able to teach me spiritual truths using what I see around me and what I’m experiencing in my body.
A Lesson in Endurance
On one particular run on a wi-indy day in Michigan, He taught me about endurance. Notice I said wi-indy, not just windy. If you are a Michigander, then you know that it’s windy every day in Michigan, but that there are certain days where it is beyond windy. It is wi-indy.
I had started my run heading west, and I noticed that the wind was coming at me from behind. It was so forceful that I felt like if I flapped my arms up and down that the velocity of it would pick me up off of the ground and carry me through the air. (Don’t tell anyone, but I may have actually tried that. In case you’re wondering, I didn’t fly). The running was effortless.
However, when I turned the corner and headed south, the wind slapped me in the face, the force of it taking my breath away. I found myself putting my head down and leaning into it to keep up my pace. Actually, forget the pace. I was just happy to maintain forward momentum! This continued until I turned the next corner and headed west again. Actually, this happened quite a few times before I finally finished my run.
Once I reached home, God asked me a question: “What enabled you to keep moving forward despite the strong wind that was opposing you?” The answer was simple. I had been training for a marathon for several months, so I had a lot of miles on my legs, meaning I had already been running a lot. As a result of that training, my legs, lungs, and cardiovascular system were conditioned. They were strong and had endurance.
If that had been my first or second time to ever go running, however, that wind would have stopped me in my tracks. I would have either slowed to a walk, or most likely, I would have turned back to the direction of least resistance. My body wouldn’t have been strong enough to head into the wind, and I would have given up without much of a fight. But because I had been training every day, running every day, the wind did not prevail.
After answering God’s question, I saw what He wanted me to see. Sometimes life itself is exactly like that. You’re cruising along, everything is going great, life is easy, when all of a sudden something happens and life slaps you in the face, taking the breath right out of you. We’ll refer to that “something” as the wind.
Whether the wind causes you to slow to a walk, retreat backwards, or put your head down and lean into it comes down to one thing: whether or not you have endurance. Endurance will equip you to charge ahead like a warrior, scale a wall like a soldier, and not be deviated from your course (Joel 2:7). Endurance will triumph over the wind, enabling you to continue to move forward.
The Word on Endurance
For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy.
Colossians 1:9-11 (Emphasis mine.)
(The Greek word for patience, hypomonē, means a cheerful or hopeful endurance. “Patience” and “endurance” can be used interchangeably.)
Verses 9 and 10 tell you that endurance comes through increasing in the knowledge of God. Verse 11 says that as you grow and increase in your knowledge of Him, you will continuously be strengthened with the miracle-producing power of the Holy Spirit … which will lead to the development of endurance. That little word “unto” in the Greek means the point reached or entered. In other words, you will reach the point of having endurance as you get to know God better.
Lay It Out Plain
Knowledge is more than just knowing facts and memorizing scripture. It includes relationship. You increase in knowledge (and relationship) by spending time in His Word and in prayer, by spending as much time listening to Him as you do talking to Him, and by meditating on and putting into practice what you know. That builds knowledge, which then builds endurance.
Just like you can’t build endurance in your physical body to run a marathon in a day, spiritual endurance also takes daily training. I’m not saying you have to seclude yourself for 12 hours a day with your nose in the Word. I’m saying that all throughout the day, you’re in an attitude of prayer and listening. I’m saying that any free thought is filled with the scripture you’ve been meditating on, or is focused on that “thing” that you’ve been asking God for wisdom about.
Just as building up endurance for long-distance running requires many, many, many long runs, and lots and lots of training, building endurance to face the gale-force winds of life is also a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. With each wind you face head on, endurance is built as you refuse to be moved from the Word that you know.
When the Wind Comes
The knowledge of God, and the relationship that is built with Him along the way, will enable you to lean into any wind with confidence, determination, and endurance. So when you’re cruising along, you turn a corner and you’re suddenly slapped with an unexpected diagnosis, a new symptom, or a funny-looking spot on your skin, you will have the strength and endurance that you need to put your head down and plow right through it.
We’ve all experienced opposing winds in our lives. I’ve encountered many fierce winds in the last four years as we’ve moved from Colorado to Jordan and now two moves back in the States. Each time, I’ve had to put my head down and lean into Him and His Word.
Just like Jesus did in Matthew 8:26, I’ve had to speak to the wind and tell it that 1 Thessalonians 5:24 says that my God Who has called me is faithful and He will do it. I’ve had to tell it that Psalm 37:5 says that since I have committed my way to God and trusted in Him, He will bring it to pass. I’ve had to replace the thoughts of the enemy with the truth of God’s Word.
Daily. Consistently. Persistently. Actively believing for the manifestation of His promises against all odds, regardless of how long it takes or how savage the wind is. That’s how endurance is built to withstand the wind.
No matter how strong the wind is you may be facing, I want to encourage you to lean into the Word that you know. If you don’t know the Word, then open it up and dive in. You will start building endurance when you know what He says about what you’re going through. Lean into the fact that He has been faithful in the past and He will not fail you now. Lean into Him until your direction changes, the wind subsides, and you’re running with ease again.
The winds may change, but He does not.
The wind is temporary, but the Word inside you is permanent, and that’s why I know that you can outlast any wind you may face. Put your head down and run on, my friend.