If you can’t fly then run. If you can’t run then walk. If you can’t walk then crawl. But whatever you do you have to keep moving forward. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Have you ever flown before? Not literally in an airplane. I’m talking about the sensation that comes when you’re gliding through life, when joy comes effortlessly, when you feel as if you’re floating off the ground.
When I go out for a run and I really get in the groove, that’s when I feel like I’m flying.
Once upon a time I ran a half marathon. Way back in 2011 I sweated my way across the finish line of the Greenwood, SC Half Marathon in a half-decent time of 2:12:36.
I couldn’t believe it. I would have been happy to finish under the 3 hour mark.
For years I wavered on whether or not I was capable of doing a 13.1 mile run. I trained on and off, never really breaking an 8 mile run at the most.
Finally I made a pact with a few students of mine. We decided we would do this together.
The feeling on the other side of the finish line was elation. I could not believe I had really completed the race. I had immediate plans to get back into training for the next one.
It’s over 2 years later and I still haven’t run the sequel.
There were plans. I had the Columbia Half Marathon in my sights last year. Then my body began to slow me down.
Plica Syndrome is what the doctor speculated. There were two options: get surgery or get a knee brace to minimize the pain.
The brace helps, but it’s not perfect. There’s still some pain in my knee.
Going out for a run is harder than it’s ever been for me. Plus I seem to have lost control of my schedule until recently. It’s been impossible to build up any stamina when I can’t go for regular runs.
Every time I hit the streets I struggle to find momentum, stopping to take breaks every mile or so.
I’m relearning how to pace myself. Relearning how to rest. Relearning how to work. Relearning how to fly.
But what keeps me going are these four words: I’ve been there before.
I’ve done this already. I have the medal to prove it. I know I am capable of training. I know I am capable of completing a half marathon.
When I doubt I just have to remind myself where I’ve been before.
It’s not just me saying those four words. It’s God as well.
In every struggle we face we must listen for God is whispering “I’ve been there before.”
He is with us in every battle we face. His spirt never leaves us. When the mountaintop seems unattainable from the bottom of the valley we must look back and remember He has raised us out of the depths before. He will again.
I think God blesses us with our greatest successes as reminder to push forward in the face of our greatest challenges. In the same way we have our own stories of success, we also have the story of the Lord’s work since time immemorial to remind us of where He’s been before.
I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among your peoples. You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph. (Psalm 77: 11-15)
When you relearn to fly, it may not look the same way it used to. What was broken may not heal back the same. But along the way you will learn something new for another day.
You are a veteran. The struggles you face today may be bigger than any other ones but you’re prepared. Remember what you’ve already overcome. You’ve been here before. God has been here before too. If you can’t fly then crawl. Just keep moving forward.
I’ll get to another half marathon. And I’ll finish it too. And one day down the line I’ll tackle a full marathon. And when I can’t get up to train I’ll remind myself – I’ve been there before. And I’ll hold tight to the strength of the Lord who was there with me the whole time.
Have you ever had to relearn how to fly? How did you keep moving forward?