Today, I run

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If I did want to brag, I wouldn’t make a fool of myself because I’d tell the truth. I’m holding back from bragging so that no one will give me any more credit than what anyone sees or hears about me. I was given a thorn in my body because of the outstanding revelations I’ve received so that I wouldn’t be conceited. It’s a messenger from Satan sent to torment me so that I wouldn’t be conceited. I pleaded with the Lord three times for it to leave me alone. He said to me, “My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.” So I’ll gladly spend my time bragging about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power can rest on me. Therefore, I’m all right with weaknesses, insults, disasters, harassments, and stressful situations for the sake of Christ, because when I’m weak, then I’m strong. ~2 Cor 12:6-10 (CEB)

When I was eight a tumor was found on my leg. You know how it is, one moment you are going about your normal everyday life, the next you don’t recognize your life anymore. Even though it was determined that the tumor was not cancerous we were still left with a frightening unknown. The doctors couldn’t remove it without injuring my leg. They determined the least harm was to allow it to remain since it was non-cancerous and to reevaluate the situation after I had stopped growing. But we had to always watch and if it changed in any way they would reevaluate the situation sooner.

So I was sent home to live my life. I remember standing in the hall in school wondering how noticeable this bump on my leg was to everyone around me. Even into my teen years I still prayed for the tumor to “magically” disappear. In the evenings when the 700 club would come on and prayers were said for healing I couldn’t help but hold my breath that I just might be healed too. I struggled with guilt about wishing the tumor away and trying to be thankful that I was really okay despite my feelings. The fear of the tumor “mysteriously changing” into something bad haunted my dreams.

As a result of the tumor, my leg did pain me from time to time and my parents didn’t push me towards activities that greatly strained my leg. Looking back I almost feel that I was discouraged from doing anything that might stress my leg. We had been conditioned to baby it. Although I have always been active there was the underlying fear of injuring that leg.

I lived my life like that for 30 years, always with the shadow of this lump on my leg changing into something frightening but trying to be thankful that I didn’t have cancer. I couldn’t help praying from time to time for the tumor to just go away. What do you do with heartfelt unanswered prayers? Personally, I kept putting the issue back on the shelf since I had no answers then taking it back down again from time to time. Then one day something strange happened. I developed this unexplainable desire to run.

For two years I tried to be happy with just hiking and biking and long walks, but the desire to run would not leave. Finally, I decided I would actually join a running club and just see how things went. By that May I participated in my first 5K. I felt so elated when I crossed that finish line. First that I didn’t embarrass myself by collapsing but also that I had actually managed to do what I thought I would never be able to do. Run.

I often think of Paul in the Bible. His words often speak straight to my heart. This tumor was just one of many thorns that God has not removed from my life.  In learning to run there have been so many life lessons I have observed. First, it was struggling through those beginning miles about endurance and determination and that it is still okay to have dreams and go after them. I have learned that life is so much like running. There is pain. You have to learn what to work through and what to avoid. I have learned that sometimes it is frightening and overwhelming, but the rewards, in the end, are great. God did not remove this tumor, though I was faithful in prayer. He chose to show me through this tumor that with Him, I could conquer a long ingrained fear. His grace really is enough.

I don’t take for granted that I will always be able to run. With each run, I am ever aware that it might be my last. But that last is not today. Today, I run.

Heavenly Father, I stand amazed at grace. Instead of removing a deeply ingrained fear, You choose to help me work through it enabling me to be able to dream bigger. I thank You for Your plans for me to prosper. I thank You for giving me hope and a future. Amen.

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