It’s day 15! We rolled right past the halfway point today! Great job to everyone who is participating in this year’s “5k Every Day in the Month of May” Challenge!
I’m going to be honest… I really struggled with my 5k today. I’m not entirely sure what the deal was, but I was super sore and felt hopelessly slow.
I took Eden out to the Wilderness Center today on a Daddy Daughter Date to feed the ducks (okay, they were definitely geese, but don’t tell Eden because she really wanted to feed the DUCKS). We had a blast! She was also feeding the fish and having such a great time, but then I got a text from my wife saying that a storm was moving in quickly so we may want to take cover. Eden was not interested in walking, so I carried her to the car to beat the storm. I’m pretty sure she has gained about 50 pounds in the last week, because I do NOT remember her being quite that heavy. Perhaps I am just getting old.
We beat the storm and made it home safely. It stormed pretty hard for a while. I decided to go out for my 5k at around 1pm. It was hot. It was humid. I was not feeling it.
If I was going to quit this silly challenge, today would have been that day. In fact, if I had not committed myself to this thing, there is probably no way anyone could have talked me into running today. But I did commit, so off I went…
My first mile clicked over at 8:14. Wow! I thought I was running a lot faster than that. In my mind, I was working way too hard for an 8:14 mile. Nothing felt right. I was quite uncomfortable. I was crazy thirsty. My right hip felt like it was out of joint. My back felt twisted around. My breathing was heavy. My legs were on the verge of mutiny. I’ve got to work harder!
I stepped it up a little bit for the second mile. I was still uncomfortable, but it was nice to see my pace get down under 8 minute miles. My second mile clicked at 7:49. Better, but not what I had in mind.
Not long into my third mile, I felt the full force of the incoming storm’s headwind. Now I was going to have to really work hard to get my pace down.
The loop that I chose to run today is what I call “The Fairlawn Loop”. It is a 4 mile loop. Once the headwind came in, I had determined in my heart to make it a 3.1 and walk it in from there! Forget this madness!!
I gave what I thought was my last bit of effort to finish mile 3 in 7:37. Just one tenth of a mile to go and then I can shut this thing down!
As I ran what I had determined to be my last one tenth of a mile, something began to stir within me.
What?! I’m stopping for sure!
Don’t stop at 3.1 because you set out to do 4. Do what you said you were going to do.
Fine. Let’s get this thing over with.
I still felt terrible. I still felt uncomfortable. But I determined to finish what I had started.
Ironically, I felt by far the best on that last mile. All of the discomfort left. My hip was fine. My back was fine. My breathing was fine. Everything felt right. I had to run uphill back to my allotment, but I didn’t care. I was in the zone. My fourth mile clicked over at 6:47.
At that point, I was very glad that I ran.
Overall, I ran 4 miles in 30 minutes and 29 seconds with an average pace of 7:37 per mile. 3 of those miles were miserable. 1 was fantastic.
I am about to make a ridiculous comparison, so I feel the need to apologize in advance. In almost no way whatsoever was my run today like the final chapters of Mark’s gospel, but I’m going to go ahead and compare them, anyway.
I actually get a lot of comfort from the fact that Jesus did not want to go to the cross. Have you ever thought about that (I know this is from yesterday’s reading, by the way). In Mark 14 we see Him asking the Father to remove this incredibly difficult burden from Him.
And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me… (Mark 14:36a, ESV)
He did NOT want to do it. I mean, in a sense, He did want to do it. He knew and had been telling His disciples for a while that His sacrifice would redeem all of humanity. But in another sense, coming up to the point of no return, He did not want to go through with it.
I am so thankful that this aspect of Jesus is revealed to us through the scriptures! Do you know what this means? It means that in every way He was tempted, just as we are! It means that our moments of doubt, our moments of “not feeling it”, our moments of actually wanting to do the very opposite of God’s will do not have to define who we really are. Jesus had moments of doubt, moments of “not feeling it”, moments of actually wanting to do the very opposite of God’s will, and yet He was without sin.
Why? Because ultimately He did not act on those desires. He made His desire known, but then finished His statement with this one:
…Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36b, ESV)
That is (in some very small way) how I felt today. Lord, let this running cup pass from me! But ultimately I did not act on those desires. Instead, I did what I think was the right thing, and I ran.
I can’t imagine that Jesus was very comfortable in those first few miles of His walk to the cross. He was delivered to Pilate. He was scourged. He was mocked. He was forced to carry His own cross until He physically could do it no longer.
There was one little verse that really stood out to me today.
And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. (Mark 15:23, ESV)
I have never noticed this verse before. Maybe you have. I hadn’t. What are the implications of this verse? Could it be that they were offering Him an easier path? Could it be that criminals who were about to be crucified were commonly offered wine as a way to ease the coming pain of the crucifixion? Perhaps this was a “merciful” custom of allowing them to get a little drunk and not feel all of the excruciating pain of nails piercing your hands and feet.
Jesus did not take it. He would not take the easy way out.
While on the cross, as He is coming to the very end of His life, having suffered the wrath of God and under the full weight of our sin, He makes some final remarks and is then given sour wine from a sponge.
And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” (Mark 15:36, ESV)
This wine, I believe, was not meant to dull His pain, but to fulfill prophetic scripture.
They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink. (Psalm 69:21, ESV)
He breathed His last breath and died. In a very small way, that is how I was feeling at mile 3 today. I was ready to take my last step and quit.
But then comes chapter 16! Then comes the resurrection! Death could not keep Him. The grave could not hold Him. He came out of the tomb like my fourth mile! He was on mission!
He had momentarily struggled and did not want to go through with the crucifixion, but at this point, He was glad that He did!
…for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2, ESV)
Now, I feel the need to once again say that my run today is hardly comparable to the work that Jesus did on the cross. I certainly did not run to offer eternal salvation to all of mankind (like Jesus did on the cross)! But this is why I wanted to make the comparison.
Jesus was a man, just like us. He was fully God, yes, but He was also fully man (100% plus 100% somehow equals 100% when God is involved…). He was tempted in every way like we are. He died on the cross for our sins -for my sins, and for your sins!
This really happened. It really was terrible for Him. He did not take the easy way out. He did the hard work.
If, even in some very small way, I can draw a comparison from my run today to the work that Jesus did on the cross for me, then I think I can actually appreciate it even more and resonate even more with how much He must love me to have gone through with it.
I don’t want to live with some vague understanding that Jesus died on the cross for me. I want to breathe in His grace deeply and follow after Him with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength.
I have made reference to this passage several times throughout this blog post, and it has been rolling around in my head all day, so here it is in all of its glorious entirety.
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14–16, ESV)
*5k Every Day in the Month of May 2018 is brought to you by Jeff Polen Music and Vertical Runner of Wooster. If you are joining the fun, don’t forget about the Facebook group, the Strava group, and the printable PDF.