Run At Your Own Pace

Don’t let yourself fall into that trap of comparing yourself against others. We’re all messy and imperfect people!

A few years ago I got a gym membership. I began jogging(1) on the treadmill consistently. I refused to get intimidated by all the in-shape giants around me and got to a pretty comfortable speed of 5.2. Nothing record breaking but I was making progress. I even bought some special sporty earbuds in order to listen to music while I ran.

One day, a young guy was jogging next to me and as I glanced over to compare my speed with his, I noticed his treadmill ran, “5.3″. I mean, come on! I wouldn’t stand for this so I I immediately cranked up my speed to 5.4. A few minutes went by an we both were in a dead sprint. It was during this feat of middle-aged maturity I reached for my towel to wipe my sweaty brow. As I did, I clipped my ear bud cord and my iPhone shot out of it’s holster, bounced on my treadmill, and fell behind me.

My competition was watching intently for what my next move would be. Not being one to back down from competition (no matter how ridiculous things get) I attempted to skip off the treadmill to retrieve my iPhone without turning off the treadmill. Everyone knows pace is important to a runner!

Long story, long, the treadmill caught me, I flew back and slammed into the machine behind me. It made a loud crash. My competition stopped to make sure I was alive. Management came out to make sure I wouldn’t sue. I left with a few scrapes and loads of embarrassment. I never returned.(2)

Sadly, many have a similar kind of story with the church. We enter cautiously, feeling slightly intimidated by the many “in-shape” Christians around us. We make some change but then we start to compare. We compare our insides with other people’s outsides and get distracted. Inevitably, we trip and fall. Sometimes, we can get so embarrassed that we never return.

Can you relate? Read what the founder of the church said about you:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. -Matthew 11:28 (Message)

See, I’ve learned the gym is not a museum to display in-shape bodies of perfection. The gym was meant for out-of-shape people just like me. Likewise, Jesus’ words remind me the church is meant for incomplete, messy, imperfect people just like me.

So, been awhile since you’ve ran? Maybe you can only manage a 5.2 or a 3.2 or just walking to church is exercise enough. Jesus’ invitation is clear.

Learn from my mistake and stop comparing yourself to the person sitting next to you on Sunday. Just run at your own pace. The truth is we’ve all fallen. Every Sunday, we’ve all gathered here, because we’re not all the way there.

1. I like to pronounce jogging with a soft “J”. It just seems more refined and European.

2. Years later actually, I rejoined the gym. I’ve been going for a few months now and am determined to not allow comparison to trip me up ever again.