According to AccuWeather.com, there are three major weather hurdles that can threaten a marathon runner’s race – heavy rain, windy weather, or scorching hot conditions. When we encounter these kinds of changes in the weather conditions of our lives, we need to adjust our run so we’re not unnecessarily sidelined.
Jogging or walking through light rain can be quite pleasant, especially when the temperature is mild. But running long distances through heavy rain can prove to be very difficult, if not downright dangerous. Torrential downpours can affect our ability to see clearly, increase the risk of slipping or falling, and worsen the likelihood of acquiring painful blisters.
Adjusting our run when we encounter heavy rain means firstly recognizing that the rains in our lives are no longer easy and energizing but have become torrential and tiring. Living in denial (“it’s only a couple of harmless drops of water!”) will only get us so far. When the realization dawns on us that it is actually pouring (sometimes someone else may have to point that out), it’s time to decide what to do next. Are we to keep running at the same pace, slow down, take an alternate route, or pause for shelter until the worst has passed? No one can answer this question for us – this is not a one-size-fits-all kind of race, so there are no easy answers. We can glean from experts, we can seek wisdom from others, we can read and research, we can obtain the best equipment, we can imitate what others have done, but in the end, we need to seek to run the unique race that God has set before us. Philippians 1:9-10a (NIV) – “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best.” Are you running in a season of torrential rain? What is God’s invitation to you in this season? How could you position yourself to better discern that which is God’s highest and best for you?
If God’s assignment for you includes continuing your race through the downpour (whether at the same rate or a slower pace), it would be wise to take some preventive measures in the areas of clear vision, steady footing, and keeping your feet dry.
Good parents understand that without clear directions, little people run wild, but can be at their happiest when they realize that the directions of loving parents are actually good for them. “Without revelation people run wild, but one who follows divine instruction will be happy.” (Proverbs 29:18, CSB). God desires for us to see clearly, so if we’re caught in a downpour, we can take necessary measures to regain clear vision before continuing. It’s no good striking out blindly and pretending we can see where we’re going. Many well-meaning travelers have wandered off in a storm, putting themselves and their companions and even their rescuers at risk. Is heavy rain in your life causing your vision to be blurry at best? What could you do to regain clear vision?
In the middle of Russian winter, one day I looked out of my window and saw an elderly woman impressively stroll with total confidence across a town square that was in essence a sheet of ice. I am certain that I would have faltered and fallen within seconds on the same surface, having lost my footing before on far less treacherous landscapes. All that to say that one person could walk steadily where another cannot, due to variations in levels of experience or confidence. Is heavy rain in your life causing you to slip or fall? Who or what could help you to gain experience or grow in confidence? Jude 1:24 (ESV) – “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy.”
Another story, this time from my walk across Spain on the pilgrimage, El Camino de Santiago de Compostela. Blisters are not fun, especially when you know you have a lot more walking ahead on your journey. Do whatever you can to prevent blisters, because once they emerge, the pathway to healing is painstakingly plodding. One recommendation to prevent blisters is to always keep your feet dry. That’s a terrific thought in theory, but deeply difficult to do when you’re squelching with every step. Take regular inventory of where you’re at – take your physical, emotional, and spiritual pulse, and ask yourself some hard questions. It would be ideal to do this each day, but try to take stock at least once a week. Psalm 143:4-6 (NIV) – “So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed. I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land.” Just because something’s hard doesn’t automatically mean you shouldn’t do it, and conversely, just because something’s hard doesn’t automatically mean you should do it! Some of us tend towards one response, some towards the other. But it might mean that attending to some needs is in order. The main thing here is – God has entrusted us with the care and nurture of our own souls first, and from that will flow how well we can care for and nurture others. Is running for long periods in heavy rain in your life unduly painful? What kind of TLC do you need, in order to run your race well?
Running in high winds can be downright exhausting or bone chillingly cold. When we lived in Russia, there were a couple of times when simply walking to the bus stop proved to be exhausting, angling our bodies into the wind to keep from being blown over. I can’t imagine attempting to run in high winds! At times like these, it can help to remain very close to others, whose presence alone can block some of the effects of the wind. Just as birds who fly in “V” formation rotate being at the lead position, taking turns at facing the brunt of the wind spreads fatigue among the participants. Also, wearing well-fitting protective clothing can be vital to prevent excessive loss of body heat or too much drag. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (ESV) – “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
Adjusting our run in these kinds of conditions means finding others who are running the race in similar high winds and joining forces to run better together. What particular challenges are you facing? With whom could you join forces in order to run better together? What kinds of special opportunities might you avail yourself of, in order to avoid excessive fatigue?
Racing in scorching hot conditions can cause overheating to the point of serious injury or death, often without the runner realizing the danger. When temperatures soar, don’t be afraid to adjust your pace. There’s no “perfect” timetable for the training and education of children, contrary to popular belief. Just because it seems like everyone else is on a certain schedule doesn’t mean that it’s the best one for you and your family. Just because your child is x years old does not mean that he or she should be doing this or that at such-and-such a level. Resist the urge to battle on in oppressive conditions, just because your calendar or watch keep announcing the date and time. We can’t control everything, of course, but we can control how we respond to people and circumstances. Which people and what factors are cranking up the heat in your life? How might you need to adjust your pace? What could bring some needed cooling off? Isaiah 49:8-10 (NLT) – “This is what the LORD says: ‘At just the right time, I will respond to you. On the day of salvation I will help you. I will protect you and give you to the people as my covenant with them. Through you I will reestablish the land of Israel and assign it to its own people again. I will say to the prisoners, “Come out in freedom,” and to those in darkness, “Come into the light.” They will be my sheep, grazing in green pastures and on hills that were previously bare. They will neither hunger nor thirst. The searing sun will not reach them anymore. For the LORD in his mercy will lead them; he will lead them beside cool waters.”
Adjusting our run during scorching conditions definitely includes staying hydrated and not letting ourselves get run down physically, emotionally, or spiritually. What hydrates you physically? What hydrates you emotionally? What hydrates you spiritually?
When we encounter difficult weather conditions, we can view them as thorns in our side or treasures to be mined. As the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade! What unique opportunities are presenting themselves in the adversities of your life? Can you reframe the way you adjudicate your adversities to accept them as avenues in which God is doing something good, holy, and beautiful?
Genesis 50:20 (NIV) – “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”