This topic keeps rolling in my mind so I guess it deserves a second chapter.
I have started back to running this week, a feat which is far more difficult than it was even a year ago. As I force myself to put one foot out the door, I am reminded of thoughts I had when I was at my running "peak". I was talking to a fellow teacher and encouraging her to come and run with me when she revealed that she had once been an avid runner, even completed a marathon. When I asked her what changed, she said she wasn't sure...she just quit running. Right then and there I must have thought what was to become the topic of this blog. "Not me! Now that I've discovered how great exercise makes me feel, I'll never stop." Famous last words.
Now I find myself in that same position. I'm not really sure what happened. I just stopped running. I've put back on the weight I had once lost and tasks that were once simple are again becoming difficult. Stress threatens to take a major toll on my body and nothing fits anymore!
It didn't happen all at once. It was really a series of small compromises. An ankle that hurt a bit, a change in schedules, a running partner who couldn't meet with me anymore, a couple of cold rainy days. One small thing after another and the next thing I knew, more than a year had passed. Oh, I tried to convince myself I hadn't fallen back too far. I still looked in shape to MOST people. I still had more energy than other women my age. I still ..... well you can fill in the rest. But inside, I knew. I knew things weren't what they used to be...what they could be. I was making little choices that were leading me away from what I wanted to be.
Isn't that what happens to us spiritually as well. We see someone who has fallen and we think, "not me! I'd never do that." Bet they thought the same thing.
I read a devotion recently by Charles Stanley that really pegged it. In that devotion, he mentioned Solomon. In his youthful arrogance, Solomon was probably sure that he'd never turn to false gods. Yet we find him in 1 Kings married to a number of wives who had false gods and Solomon began to turn away from what he knew was right. Dr. Stanley writes, "the fact that God didn't instantly react to his rebellion must have made rationalizing the next marriage even easier...." The truth is, every compromise led Solomon farther from God. I wonder if at some point, Solomon didn't look up and wonder, "How did I get here?"
The path to compromise is easy. The path to obedience is often difficult. Compromise doesn't really take any thought at all. Obedience requires that we be aware of our choices and recognize when the path of least resistance is actually a step toward a slippery slope of destruction.
The good news is, God is constantly reaching for us, willing to catch us and point us back in the right direction. I truly wish the road back to obedience was easy, but sometimes it's about as easy as climbing a steep rocky hill after we've fallen a hundred feet. We feel our bumps and bruises and many times the thought of giving up is easier than the desire to get back to the path at the top of the hill. But as painful and difficult as it is, it's worth it. When we return to our journey, we're perhaps a bit wiser and less likely to be arrogant and think, "not me."
As I force myself to go out on this cold day for my scheduled run, may I become more aware than ever of how my daily choices affect my future. May I recognize how today's decisions affect tomorrow's reality. I don't want to become so blinded by the days' activities that I find myself wondering in a few years, "How did I get here?" Nope, not me.