Reflections From the Treadmill #3

By Karen Pullano

To read from the beginning click HERE

CrossTreadmill

Be Not Afraid

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil….

After the first week of running I realized my body was seriously rebelling. Everything hurt and things were swollen. I have been stretching, and icing, and stretching some more, of course, but that only does so much good. I noticed I was approaching that treadmill with something akin to fear. I knew it was going to feel like the longest 30 minutes of my life and my heart would start pounding with dread before I even took a step. I tried not to think about it and obediently jumped on with determination to meet my goal.

In contemplating the cross on the wall before me, I thought of Jesus in the garden and how much fear and dread must have filled Him at the prospect of temporal and bodily torture. It was a solid act of His will to choose obedience in suffering for the greater good. Jesus went willingly to His torture. You might wonder, as I did, how in the world He was able to go willingly. He was living in a fully human capacity and had all the supernatural help that you and I would have, yet he chose obedience to His Father’s will. I can’t pretend to know the depths of what Jesus experienced in the garden, of course, but the psalmist gives the simple answer as to how I have been able to obediently accept my own crosses. “…I shall fear no evil, for you are with me.”
Jesus knew that in a very deep and real way. This is why we are counseled throughout the scriptures to Be Not Afraid. God is with us and goes before us in every suffering. Let Him be your shepherd. Let His rod and His staff be your comfort.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Ps 23:4-6)

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Reflections from the Treadmill #2

By Karen Pullano

If you missed the first installment click here CrossTreadmill

Love Gives meaning to Suffering

If you have ever run a 5K for a worthy cause then you will easily understand what I mean here. There are lots of organized runs for wonderful causes out there and they are generally intended to raise money and awareness for a particular organization or charitable cause. Forget about the financial aspect for a minute and ask yourself this: how did running or walking in that race do anything for the cause? Why did you do it? Why did they want you to do it?
The answer is quickly obvious. By lending your support, encouragement, and strength, and standing with many in solidarity, you strengthen the cause, right? You get behind something you believe in and are willing to sacrifice in order to do it. It is a demonstration of Love and good.Maybe there is training involved that has taken dedication and perseverance. Think about what got you to that 5K. If it was dedication to a cause, then you know exactly what it is to offer up suffering for Love.

So too, we can make an offering of our suffering for God’s “cause.” I love Him so infinitely that I could never suffer or sacrifice enough for Him. I have only to look at the cross and be reminded of the scourging, the thorns, and the garden, and I know that what I’m going through is only a shadow of what Christ did out of Love. The more I Love Him, the more meaning my suffering takes on.

I further proved this to myself the other day when I was praying for someone so dear to me that I would give my life for them. I set a grueling goal on the treadmill as a prayer offering (okay it was only 2 miles, but I felt I needed some added drama here). As expected, about halfway through, I thought I was done for, but no amount of pain could have kept me from offering up that effort for this person that I love. Like running in solidarity at a 5K, when we offer prayer together with sacrifice it carries more weight. It’s like saying to God, this is so important to me that I am willing to follow your lead and suffer for this cause. We unite ourselves to the cross, which is the supreme act of Love.
I was amazed at my own determination and ability to push myself to my limits. My deep and intense love motivated me like nothing else could have.

When we learn to love God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, more deeply, our burden is lightened. That Love is truly the Yoke Jesus asks us to take.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 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 is light.” (Mt 11:28-30)

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