At 21 years of age and studying Global Studies at Arizona State University, I have been on a journey through the past 7 years. It has been a beautiful story that God has used to reveal his redemptive love in my life. While beginning my freshman year of high school, I joined my school’s cross-country and track team not really knowing what to expect. Which was the start to the beginning of my love/hate relationship for running. As the year’s progressed through high school I began to not only like running itself but how struggling through a hard run to its end is something so fulfilling and satisfying to accomplish.
Thousands of miles, many 5k and 10ks races, and two marathons later, I cannot express how much I am excited to live for three months along the Pacific Coast. Running not for my own desire, leisure, fame, or fortune, but to run for something far greater, that will last forever.
Over the years, why I run has changed a great deal. It has also then made my desire to run and improve increase as well. There are many biblical parallels to running and the struggle through a hard long race. However, even though I excelled at running, it didn’t make me happy. For a long time I ran for myself, to obtain goals of personal records, and to have my identity linked with running. I thought it made me feel good, but the more I ran, the more it was unfulfilling. There was no purpose or drive to why I ran.
The past year or two I have experience such joy and love for what God has blessed me with. I see doors he opened and closed in my life, some easy decisions, some very tough, and it has brought me to where I am now. My experiences and abilities that I was blessed with have prepared me for this summer and for the ministry I will be doing.
We all are special. We all are blessed with gifts and qualities that are unique to us. We have to believe that we can change the world, here and now. Not by our means, but by God transforming hearts through us. Through who we are and what he has blessed us with.
I started running when I was a junior in high school. I can honestly say that the reason I started running was for a girl. I was slightly chubby, and she was cute enough that I would have tried anything that she herself was doing. Although the girlfriend didn’t last, running and I developed a long lasting friendship. Throughout my senior year, running became an even bigger part of my life. It had become my identity, I was a runner, and nothing else mattered.
That following year, I had every intention and desire to run for ASU. After a summer of 700+ miles, I was sure that I had at least a shot of getting on the team. But God had other plans. I ended up not making the ASU squad, which brought me to a very important crossroad in my life. It made me question, “Why the heck am I even running?” At this point, I quit running. I thought that if I wasn’t competing and showing others my talent, there is no need for me to train either. My body and my spirit had taken a pretty sever hit my freshman year at ASU, but I was soon to realize that the spirit and love for running were sustained by a power much greater than my own.
It was here that I began truly running the way I was meant to. Not to make a team, nor break any records, or bring fame to my own name. It was here that I began to understand that God had given me the gift of running, not for others, but for me! The way in which He has designed me to understand His plan for my life directly coincides with the way I experience His pleasure when I run! The joy, love, energy, strength and even the pain are all part of His way of loving Paul Bell. It is absolutely beautiful. It is this experience of love I can only hope and pray to convey to others. That I would speak not from just my lips or the air in my lungs, but rather my speech would be a direct outpouring of my heart.
This is the reason that Zac and I want to do this run. Along with many others, we understand that experiencing God’s joy in the way that He has designed each one of us to experience it is one of the greatest blessings that He could lay upon us! Whether you feel you glorify God through running, dancing, singing, or any manner, know that His joy is contagious and His love is never failing!