When I first started training for the Adirondack Half Marathon, I found an App that seemed to suit my ability and my schedule. I downloaded it on to my phone and started running, The initial training sessions were short runs 1.5 miles, 2 miles, 3 miles. No big deal. Although it was often hot and muggy during my runs, the distances didn't really warrant carrying water. As long as I was hydrated throughout the day, I felt fine. The only thing I carried was my phone and, if a dog was accompanying me, a leash and a "waste" bag.
There are devices made, such as arm bands, so I wouldn't have to hold the phone, but I have never been able to find one that fit my arm. They were either too big or too tight. I've never been able to find one that was "just right" (dispense with the Goldilocks jokes, please) so I carried my phone, holding it in place under a rubber band wrapped loosely around my palm. The phone stayed in place while my circulation still circulated.
Still, on longer runs my palms got sweaty and the phone became an uncomfortable nuisance. Additionally, though I needed it to track my mileage, I often found myself checking the phone to see how far I'd come - or more honestly, checking to see how much further I had to go. I was not content to wait for the little App Coach to let me know my pace, split times and distance. I would impatiently check the screen, sometimes actually stopping running to read the stats because of the sun and sweat in my eyes.
As I mentioned in a previous post, on longer runs I found the need to carry food and water to sustain my energy. I have a water bottle that has a handle which wraps around my palm, but like the phone it made my hand sweaty so I started tucking the bottle in to the waistband of my shorts. It stayed in place...most of the time. But carrying food became a problem. My running shorts don't have pockets so I had to resort to a "fanny pack".
In the pockets of my fanny pack, which I wore turned towards my front not my fanny, I stowed my phone, food, Kleenex, and a plastic grocery bag (for the dog). I still had to keep my water bottle in the waistband of my shorts. I was now able to run with my hands free, unless I had a dog with me and then I only had to hold my end of the leash.
An aside here. Back in June I went camping with my friends Adiel and Mindy. During our hikes Mindy used a fanny pack to carry her keys, camera, water bottle, etc. Though Mindy's pack was of a sportier style than most, Adiel and I still made fun of her. Mindy, please forgive me!)
Some interesting things happened once I reorganized my paraphernalia and ran with empty hands. I got faster. (Note: I said faster not fast. I'm still slow.)
With the phone in my pack, the little App voice is often muffled or drowned out completely by the sound of street traffic. When I do hear the App Coach, I can't always discern what she is saying; I only hear a "still, small voice" indicating to me I've made some forward progress. I just have no idea of how much progress or how much further I have to go. But I love hearing that voice!
Hebrews 12:1 (NASB) says "...let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us". Other translations use the word "weight" instead of "encumbrance". During my training runs, I wasn't carrying less. In fact, counting the Swedish Fish and Animal Crackers in my pack, I was carrying more now. The only difference was my hands were free. I was no longer distracted by what I was holding. And I was no longer glancing at my phone, looking to check my stats.
I carry a lot of baggage in my daily life. I'm weighed down by my long "To Do" list, my worries and concerns. I'm distracted by the voices that tell me I'm behind, not good enough,I'll never catch up, I need to try harder. These are the encumbrances I need to shed. This is sin of disbelief and this is where grace enters the picture. Just like on my runs, I have to reorganize how I carry things.
Some things Jesus said:
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matt11:28)
"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." I Peter 5:6-7
"Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden light." (Matt 11:29-30)
Grace humbles me, not as an embarrassment or a crutch. Truth be told (sin confessed) my own pride is the crutch on which I lean...and run poorly. Grace is the very legs on which I stand and run the race set before me. Jesus wants me to finish this race and thus He provided the legs, He is there with me every stride, carrying my food and water, feeding me along the way, and telling me to press on.