Renewed strength.

raceTen miles into my thirteen-mile race, I was struggling. I ran and then had to walk. And then run. And then walk. I couldn’t wish myself to run faster or further.

I started looking for faces that I knew. I wanted to ask someone to pray for me. Not to encourage me, to pray for me. Because I couldn’t pray. I couldn’t think more clearly than “God, help.”

I tried to remember God’s words to Isaiah that “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength…they will run and not grow weary.” But it wasn’t working. I figured that God wasn’t talking about about half-marathons. Not exactly.

I’m telling you this story for several reasons.

I’m pretty sure my problem with praying wasn’t a spiritual problem. I had run too fast in the first part of the race. I had only swallowed 4-5 mouthsful of liquid. I had burned a lot of calories and taken in few. I was having physiological issues, not spiritual ones. And sometimes when we have a hard time praying, it’s because we’re exhausted – not because God or we have turned from the other.

But I also know that working that passage from Isaiah into my heart a little further would given more sustenance for that part of my journey. I’m convinced that hoping in the Lord can happen near the end of the distance run, or in the middle of the grocery run, or at the beginning of a coffee run. God is talking to Isaiah about people with a history of depending on themselves who finally learned to depend on God.

The text doesn’t say that there isn’t running or walking or other tests of strength. After all, a grocery run demands concentration and creativity. But I think that we can be renewed with compassion for the family for whom we shop. Sometimes that’s the miracle.

So is crossing the finish line.