Running Shoes or Bedroom Slippers?

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. - Hebrews 12:1-2

"Run the race."  Now there's a phrase I understand, not that I'm a very good runner.  Being flat-footed, I look a bit like an uncoordinated duck when I attempt to run, but still, I understand the concept.  But "run with patience"?  That's where I need some help.  In the words of Mia from The Princess Diaries, "The concept is grasped.  The execution is a little elusive."

I get the meaning.  Run with patience.  Go, but wait.  Be fast, yet be still.  Am I the only one who has trouble executing this principle of running with patience?  I have the running part down; it's the patience part that leaves me scratching my head.  Here, I'll give you an example.

At the beginning of last week, I came down with a nasty little bug.  I don't know if it was a cold or allergies from the change in weather, but whatever it was, it had me feeling pretty yucky both Monday and Tuesday.  By Wednesday morning, I felt a good bit better, so what did I do?  I started running.  I did my exercises, cleaned the house, completed some writing, washed and folded laundry, and so on.  By mid-afternoon, I realized the error of my ways.  In fact, one of the first things that popped into my mind was "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."  Yep, my spirit was ready to go and tackle all the things that had piled up from the days before.  My body, however, was not quite ready for that much vigorous activity.  By Wednesday evening, I was back in the bed with a terrible headache and a great sense of frustration.

I tend to be that way about everything.  When I see something that needs to be done, I want to get it done.  That's just the way I am.  The problem is that I don't approach the race with patience.  I approach it like the hare from the old fable in the sense that I just want to get it done.  Unfortunately, my body refuses to cooperate, and I find myself snoozing under an oak tree while all the tortoises of this world pass me by.

You know the worst part, the part that makes me cringe every time I think about it?  By running the race without patience, I'm constantly starting the race, but never finishing it.  Think about it.  Every time I have to stop to rest, I have to get up and start again.  Granted, I don't have to start back at the starting line, but I'm still just starting.  I have to work up my speed again.  I have to warm up my muscles again.  I have to get my focus and direction again.  For each time I stop, I have to start again.  If, however, I were like the tortoise, I would be consistently plodding along.  And while the speed may not be much, at least I'd be moving in the right direction.

Patience.  My dogs think it's a dirty word.  To be honest, I often agree.  But the longer I live and the more I run this race, the more I realize that I would do well to learn more about patience.  It may mean the difference between finishing the race or spending my days in bed because I pushed myself too hard in the beginning.  Running shoes or bedroom slippers?  The choice is yours!