I had an opportunity to run a Ragnar trail race which is a 120-mile trail run split between eight racers each running three legs. This race is run over a 24-hour period. So, in total, each runner runs 15 miles. Let me be the first to tell you that I am NOT a runner nor do I have the typical runner’s body and, in fact, I ran that race at 240lbs. It was TOUGH. My first leg was eight miles. The first four miles were straight up, which equates to a 2,200 ft. elevation gain!!!
As I began to run, my mind was focused, but my body…not so much. To say I struggled is an understatement. The trail was in the middle of nowhere and was made up of loose dirt and gravel which caused cotton mouth and left me gasping for water within the first quarter mile. As I began my eight-mile journey up a treacherous mountain, I felt like I was in the desert with no water in sight. The trail was marked every few hundred meters with little arrows pointing where to go, like bumpers on a bowling alley designed to keep you from going into the gutter.
As I ran, I began gasping for air; I couldn’t breathe. I started feeling like I was going to die (maybe a bit of an exaggeration) and I wanted to quit. I actually began to pray asking the Lord to help me get through it. Then I heard the Lord speak to me. He said, “This is what your walk with me is like right now.” At first I didn’t understand it. I thought to myself, “Oh my gosh I am going to die!” After all, that’s what I felt like on the trail. I kept thinking and praying through what He had spoken to my heart. And then it clicked…my walk had been DRY and I was gasping for fresh air. I felt like I was in a desert just trying to hold on, just trying to reach water, looking for a fresh start.
The Lord spoke to me and said, “Kyle, you have been running this race and you are not prepared for the course.” I hadn’t disciplined my body, and trained for Ragnar like I should have and it showed in my performance. The Lord spoke to my heart and showed me that I hadn’t been properly preparing for the course that He set out for me. God has called me to “shepherd the flock” (1 Peter 5:2) and to do that I need to take care of myself spiritually.
Sure, I read the Bible daily, I pray, and as a pastor I “know what to do” but somehow, I let myself get to a place of complacency. My time in prayer and my time in the Word were for the benefit of the flock and not for my personal relationship with Jesus. I was in the desert with no water in sight. “How am I going to pull myself out of this one?” I thought to myself. “How am I going to do this?”…“How am I?” Then the Lord said, “YOU CAN’T! You can’t will yourself out of a desert. You must allow Me to make rivers in the desert.” I had to allow Him to soften my heart and do a work in me. Israel went through a similar season. Because of complacency and disobedience they were taken captive by Babylon. They were strangers in a foreign land. But the Lord in His loving-kindness brought them out of it and back into the Promised Land.
“Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.”
It was then that I crested the top of that 4-mile hill and there it was, the second most beautiful sight in the world (of course, my wife being the first), the WATER station!
The Lord has been gracious to me in this desert season; the Lord provided a river in my self-inflicted wasteland. He has refreshed me, given me vision, and showered me with His loving-kindness. My biggest take away was I needed to discipline my spirit by diving into God’s word for personal growth. I needed to humble myself by being submitted to the leading of the Holy Spirit. I have a race to run and at the end of the day I want to hear the Lord speak to me these seven words, “Well Done, Thou Good and Faithful Servant.”