The Courage to Continue

tired runner needing the courage to continueYour legs feel like concrete, your breathing grows labored, your strides turn into a shuffle. Negative thoughts flood your mind, and the urge to quit becomes overwhelming.”–Runners World

This feeling is called “hitting the wall,” and when running my first half-marathon, I hit it with gusto. I can testify that the above describes it perfectly. All of a sudden, any bit of energy, joy, and positivity you once had, completely vanishes as you seemingly hit an invisible barrier. Finishing no longer feels like an option but puking, fainting, collapsing are all very strong probabilities. This sudden drop in energy turns your mental chat to complete garbage.

You are not going to make it. Look how much farther you have to go. You will never be able to do it. You aren’t a runner. All of this work was for nothing. You might as well quit. 

Fortunately, my friend had given me the secret of getting past the wall: just keep going. One step in front of the other. The “wall” will pass. One concrete filled leg in front of the other one. And thankfully, I did make it past the wall, and eventually I felt a new burst of energy to finish the race. And yes, you heard that right:  I finished the race!  Woot woot!

The experience of “hitting the wall” is not unique to running. In fact, in every new endeavor I have undertaken, I have reached a point of total and complete discouragement when the urge to quit is overwhelming. It takes a lot of courage to start something new, but even more courage to continue to the end. 

Even when writing this blog, I “hit the wall” and war against a sense of defeat. Words do not come as easily as I would like, the fruit of my labor is unseen, technical frustrations are faced, and much time and energy is expended. Every single time, I am tempted to quit. Every. Single. Time. Yet I truly desire to finish the work to which God has called me in this season. Paul writes in Philippians 3:13-14

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

I press on.

Keep going. Have the courage to continue. Push past the wall. Dig deep. Forget your own limitations, and rely on the limitless power of the Holy Spirit.

I am not telling you to pull up your boot straps and try a little harder. I am encouraging you to trust Christ who lives in you and press on in spite of all that you may feel.

So to any of you that may lack the courage to continue; to those who are being overwhelmed with the urge to quit; to those who are being inundated by thoughts of defeat; let me offer you a spiritual gel pack or two, to fuel your focus and boost your mental strength:

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour is not in vain.” I Corinthians 15:57-58

“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…” Hebrews 12:1b-2a

Fix your eyes upon Him…and keep going. One concrete-filled leg at a time.

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