by Joe Castaneda
I woke up today and the outside air temperature, with no windchill, was -20! Seems impossible when the sun is up, the sky is blue and from my ice-covered window, the view looks so inviting.
Usually after I have a busy weekend of ministry, my wife lets me sleep in on Monday. She gets up with the older students (around 6am) and drives them the 25-minutes into town to take them to school. This lets me sleep in until 7:15 when I get up with the younger girls, and the extra 75 minutes of sleep is blessed.
Today is one of those Mondays, compounded by the fact I have today off. So after I stumbled out of bed, made breakfast for the girls and settled in to do some blogging, I am enjoying the comfort of home. I’m sitting on a heater so I’m toasty, my sweat pants and sweatshirt are especially comfortable, the music is streaming to our wireless speakers, and my bacon, egg and tortilla breakfast has me feeling like a mid-morning nap would be very appropriate.
Just one main problem: I’m scheduled to workout this morning.
Presently I can think of -20 reasons why I shouldn’t work out. This is one of those rare mornings where I can rest, get a lot of writing and work done in a kid-free and quiet house and did I mention it’s -20 outside? Days like today were made for staying home and enjoying time with my wife (who works from home with a great job) and maybe catching up a on a couple of Netflix shows we’re watching.
But I’m going to mess up the morning by putting on work out clothes, piling on the layers so I can walk to the car, jumping in the car and driving over to the gym. Why am I going to work out today?
In 215 days, 23 hours, 12 minutes and 4 seconds I’m going to be on the starting line of my first road race ever, and it’s a 1/2 marathon. I don’t enjoy running and I’ve never run for more than 20 minutes at any one time in my life. The only 5K I’ve run, was not a “race” and my wife and I jogged/walked it. (you can click here to learn why I’m running it if you’re interested!)
If I make an excuse today for why I can’t hit the gym and get a practice run in, it’ll be even easier to have an excuse tomorrow and the next day. Suddenly it will be the end of summer and my workout habits will be sketchy at best, and I will be no where near race-ready. Then, when the obstacle starts looming closer and bigger, I’ll have to either hope I can kick my routine into hyper drive or I’ll have to scratch myself from the race roster that day.
How do I know this will happen? Because I’ve seen it happen in my life before and I’ve watched as others have done the same thing with their lives. And too often, I’ve done it, and watched others do it, on things way more important than a 1/2 marathon. I’ve watched friends’ marriages end because they kept thinking they would start working on it later. I’ve watched peoples’ health deteriorate because they were going to start their new healthy lifestyle next week. I’ve seen Christians desiring to live the Overboard Life never get out of the boat because the timing just wasn’t right.
Here is what I know about making advances in my own life:
- The timing is never right. There will always be people, activities and events vying for your time. Those who complete what they start, who get out of the boat and live a compelling life of faith, those who date their spouses, invest in their children, organize their finances and step out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary don’t wait for the right time — they take the time and, with God’s help, make those things happen.
- Bad habits don’t take effort. Bad habits are easy. I don’t have to work hard to establish bad habits for my life. Think about it, if you have any bad habits, did you have to work to fit them into your lifestyle? Of course not. Generally speaking, the disciplines and habits that move us away from our God-given dreams come quite naturally — that’s why we don’t have those dreams already!
- Good habits require work. Replacing those bad habits is hard, that’s why people often give up on their [insert your goal here]. It would be easy to not run a 1/2 marathon on October 5th. To run it will require lots of sweat, sore calves, aching feet, mind-over-body workout lengths and the need to stretch a 20 minute run into 22…into 28…into 35…into 36…into 2.5 hours! Whatever good habit you’re trying to insert into your life will require hard work.
- The journey is better than the goal. Ultimately, every major goal I’ve been blessed to achieve has proven that the journey is even better than the destination. When I completed my first book, Project Joseph, in 2011, I had no idea that the journey to finish that book was far more significant than finishing the book itself. We celebrated the book completion, and I’m grateful for how God has used that tool in the lives of others. But even more, I’ve celebrated how God has used the lessons from the process of writing that book to help shape my current life-direction. The process was as valuable as the final product.
What advances do you need to make today? What choices can you make in this moment to hold the course for a goal that may seem so far away? Hebrews 12:1-2 has just been resonating in my mind a lot lately. The idea of “…throw[ing] off everything that hinders and the sin so that easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…” Those bad habits have to go. My desires to take the easy path, to choose sin over righteousness, selfishness over selflessness or fear over faith have to be replaced with belief that God is greater than my weaknesses. With His help, I can run my race (and not just the one in October, but the one I’m running every day!) and I can live in faith out on the water where Jesus is building His Kingdom.
I won’t be the fastest runner on October 5th. But with a little work I will finish the race with my wife and we will celebrate the completion of a great goal. Even more, we’ll celebrate the process that brought us to the finish line and we’ll be closer to being who God wants us to be through the journey.
And that’s why I’m going to work out today.
Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!