But when the alarm sounded at 4:00 AM, lacing up and stepping out into the cold darkness just didn't seem like a good idea. Fortunately, I'd anticipated the resistance from my mind and body and had set a second alarm to go off at 4:15.
I've always been a morning person, but two weeks of running after the sun came up, in the daylight, no earlier than 7:30 or so, had given my brain a sort of amnesia where it came to recalling this is the way we do things. Still, I somewhat staggered to the door to let the dogs out and the cold blast of air that forced its way into the house gave me yet another reason to crawl back into bed.
But I didn't. With the Mississippi River Marathon looming in barely over a month and this the 7th day of the Janathon challenge to workout and blog everyday, I knew I couldn't succumb to the temptation to hit the bed for an extra hour of sleep. The road was calling, calling through the bone-chilling darkness waiting for me on the other side of the door.
So I dressed, put on my Garmin, gathered my flashlight, and stepped into the pre-dawn frigid air. I managed my planned 6 mile run with a 10:52 pace, not too bad for me to begin the week, considering I started with no desire to be on the road.
But just as He has the past 6 days, God used my morning run to send me the message He wanted me to deliver today. After the first mile or so, the run that I had so wanted to avoid, that had so dreaded, that promised to be so miserable while I was snug and warm inside the house, didn't seem so bad. In fact, by mile two I was really enjoying it. I was warmed up and feeling good, like I was right where I was supposed to be.
And once again, the morning run proved to be a metaphor for life. I wanted so badly to avoid this run, this 6 miles that I knew I needed to run. But once I got out there, over the hump, past the temptation to quit before I even started, it proved not nearly so bad as I had imagined. In fact, it became quite the satisfying way to begin my day.
"For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil." -- 1 Peter 3:17
Think about how often you've known someone (maybe even yourself) who knew what they needed to do, knew what the right thing to do was, but didn't do it. Maybe they let doubt creep in and convince them it really wasn't what they were supposed to do, because of fear. Fear that they couldn't accomplish the task, fear that the attempt would be painful, fear they would suffer.
But Peter tells us we're going to suffer, whether we do good or evil, whether we do what we know is right or we choose to do something else. Hard times befall us all. Christians and nonbelievers, rich and poor, strong and weak. Everyone on earth faces tough times.
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." -- John 16:33
Jesus said the same thing. We'll all have trouble in this world. So if we have to face tough times, if we must struggle, if suffering's going to come, it's better to suffer doing good, doing what we know is right, doing what we know we're supposed to do, doing God's will, than to suffer and be out of His will.
Because just like with my run this morning, we may suffer in the midst of doing good, but once it's all said and done, once we've finished what we're supposed to do, the reward makes whatever pain, whatever discomfort we felt worth it.
"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." -- 2 Corinthians 4:17
I felt like crawling back in bed this morning. I didn't want to face the cold. I didn't want to suffer. But after I started, I quickly realized it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Was it as enjoyable as it would have been at 400? No. But it wasn't awful either.
After the run, just like always, I felt better the rest of the day. That little bit of suffering in the morning had rewarded me with feeling good throughout the workday and beyond. "Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all."
I've learned that if you honestly seek God's will, He will reveal it to you. It won't come in a burning bush, or written on tablets of stone, or from a booming voice out of the clouds. Usually, for me, it comes as that little voice inside my head that always tells me what I'm supposed to do. He reveals his will to me through my conscience.
A lot of times, His will sounds scary. Sometimes, it sounds impossible. There are times when I think, that's just crazy. But if you're doing God's will, if you're suffering to accomplish His plan, the reward is great. Whatever pain, discomfort, or ridicule you endure will be so worth it when things are all said and done.
So when you feel God calling you to do something, like the Nike slogan says, Just Do It! It'll be worth it.
If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.