In The Zone
My eldest son has always been a runner. Most kids when playing like to run, but with him it’s different, something more. It’s just “in him” to run. My husband and I have always encouraged our kids to try new things and find what holds their passions and then pursue it. People tend to think we expect our kids to be “jocks”, but that simply isn’t so. However, we do want our kids to explore their potential and discover who they are for themselves beyond the name on their birth certificate or the address of their house or number to their phone. John and I have always made mental notation of our sons need to run so several years ago we began encouraging him to join the Cross Country team once he began high school. He would ponder our encouragement, but never truly said much about it. I frequently like to describe his disposition as, “the one word answer man.” I love my son, creative beyond imagination and gifted in the arts.. I knew it was in him to run and that if he did, he would find a part of himself that could go, reach, extend farther than his comfort zone thought possible.
Here we are, the first season of his freshman year and he is running with the team. I am blown away with these kids, with my kid. They look so fluid as they stride. The pace is ridiculous! They whip out a two mile run at this level in under twelve minutes…THAT’S FAST! I get such a thrill watching him compete, not against anyone else out there, but against what he formerly held as possibility to the realm of limitless potential. I know as he continues he will only get better. He will hone his skill, fine tune his stride, develop the ability to strategize the various courses the team takes on.
I love fitness, always have. I don’t know where I got it, because no one else in my family is into fitness. Maybe my Dad, he is very active and doesn’t sit long. But I have never done what my son is doing now. He ran four miles a day over the summer! I love to sprint, but distance running, never. I have a lot of friends who are skilled distance runners and crank out marathons all the time. Over the years I have known a lot of distance runners and they all seem to have the same unified message. They say there is a “wall” of the mind, the will, the body. It’s the point in the run where you want to stop. You want to walk. You want to give in. But the great runners say that if you dig a little deeper within yourself and find that next gear and push ahead you actually break into a whole new level and this euphoria takes over and you can run for what may be forever. You are in the zone…you are in your zone…and you are one with the pavement.
I’ve been talking to my son a lot about this place, this internal wall that must be climbed and I have been trying to cast a vision in his mind of what it will feel like on the other side with every stride. I can already see in my minds eye the pleasure of his face when he develops to this point, not because I want it for him, but when he wants it for himself.
Because I am not a distance runner I can’t speak from personal experience in this area. However, I cannot help but be able to relate on an entirely different field, same concept, but a different event. For this is what I feel within the company of the Holy Spirit. Allow me to try to concisely draw a parallel between a runner and a Christian who presses on toward all that the Lord would Purpose for a life.
The world is full of “joggers”. These are recreational runners who do so because they enjoy it, but are maybe taking it casually. They don’t try to go very fast and sometimes it may even look more like a bobbing up and down quick walk. Or maybe they run for exercise because it’s effective and doesn’t take long. But when you really sit and watch a “runner”, so fluid they are like liquid gliding through the air. Especially watching these kids as a team. They are not merely running, everyone can make their feet move forward really fast, but to run is to find your cadence, a oneness with your own soul and mind and body. You gain a rhythm that is unique to you, though you are running in a group. The group moves together, as One, though they are not all the same. It is as though they are carrying each other as a unit, yet they do not actually touch each other at all. They are not looking around, they have their gaze fixed directly ahead. Their eyes are on point, not too far ahead as to trip on something unseen, but not staring down at their feet either. No, they are fixated on something in between. They are not looking to the right or to the left, because they would either run into something, someone or they would lose their balance, and their rhythm and then fall. For sure they do not look back, even in a heated race and they can feel another runner at their heels. They are aware of their presence but they keep moving forward and adjust their pace.
In the Christian life there are many casual Christians who love God and believe the content of John 3:16 with all of their heart, but for whatever reason, they take their faith casually as though they were out for an occasional or recreational jog because it was “good for them.” They have the Holy Spirit, of course, for the Word promises that when we receive Christ, we receive His Counselor the Holy Spirit, but because they don’t spend much time fellowshipping with the Spirit, they haven’t developed their skill to rely on Him, recognize His lead or efforts to communicate. They are content to manage life on their own and treat this relationship like a “jog” maybe even only taken on Sundays.
The more serious runner runs everyday. The more serious Christian fellowships with God every day, or most days even, but when trials come or things aren’t “easy” or as they “expected” they quit, they don’t press in, they don’t overcome. Just like the runner who stops when they get to that threshold.
Then there is the runner that refuses to quit. They have an inner cadence that has decided the pace, or maybe even they are a Believer so fine tuned with the voice of the Holy Spirit they keep going because the Spirit is encouraging them somewhere deep inside,
“Don’t quit!” “You can do this!” “You are an Overcomer!” “Because of Jesus you’ve got the win!”
These are the Believers that listen, truly listen and obey the lead of the Holy Spirit. These are the Believers who are experienced with time and testing on how to keep going. It doesn’t matter what the trail looks like or how hot the pavement, they dig deep, they dig in, and they push through. They push through lives trials. They push through the pain of the past. They push through disappointments, setbacks, and all various kinds of adversity, but they do not pack it in. They do not look to the right or to the left, they are all consumed by the Lord’s portion for them they do not have time to watch what others are doing. Their gaze is not downcast from worry or despair, they aren’t looking so far ahead that they cannot manage their day to day existence, they are focused just right. Their eye is on Jesus Christ and they are following the lead of His Word and the Spirit will give them actual action steps to the application of the Word to their life.
You actually do find a point of breakthrough, where you become completely unleashed and set free and you feel the pleasure of the Lord and the Holy Spirit all about you. His Voice! So loud and clear as He offers wisdom, instruction and direction on your every aspect of your own personal life race. HE sets the cadence. HE sets the course. HE gauges your stride and you feel like you could run forever!
It is a euphoric place that can never be described to a single soul. There are other people who understand, who have pushed through to the “other side” also and are also running in the zone. And this creates a sort of unified message all of it’s own. It is the place where Yahweh commands the blessing. (Psalm 133:2-3)
Be encouraged. Whatever befalls you today or whatever you are up against. Have you hung up your running shoes? Have you settled for the lap around the track when God is calling you to a longer distance run? Do you find yourself stopping every time you get to the threshold where God is telling you “keep going you’re almost to the other side”? Put your shoes back on. I dare your curiosity to push through and find out what the intimate friendship with the Holy Spirit looks like from this zone of God’s Grace and Glory.
How will you know when you are close? You will know…you will know.
It’s kind of ironic, since maybe the year 2002 the Holy Spirit has quickened my heart for every single location in the Bible that speaks of a threshold. I knew God had something hidden like manna in these passages for me. There was a message for my heart, my own walk with God, my life. I would search it out, read about every story and to this day I would sit taller when I’d see these verses or hear the stories. I had the essence of what they were about, but I knew there was something much deeper in Truth to be found. I realize just now…God is talking about the zone.
God’s got a zone of Glory that can be tapped into with the Power of the Holy Spirit. When we run, we run toward the prize. For when we run, we will feel God’s Pleasure.
“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
“Know ye not that those who run in a race all run, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain it.” 1 Cor. 9:24 (NKJV)