I confess: I’m a gym hermit today. Doing church on the run.

Brace yourself. Here comes one of the most intimately honest posts I’ve ever published on this site.

OK, here goes.

Running takes both body and soul, especially if we aim to sustain the effort long-term. Going the distance requires everything we’ve got – and maybe much more.

My faith is a big part of that. In fact, it’s more central to my running than anything I eat or whatever I lace onto my feet. My faith far exceeds any training I do or long-distance races I finish, when it comes to sustaining my steps.

And the smile of God motivates me far more than any medals I might receive (although I sure enjoy those, like any runner). One of my favorite Bible verses talks about this:

May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace. (Numbers 6:24-26, NLT)

I think God delights in our private times together, when He has my full attention. That can be a personal challenge for me, but it’s always worth the extra effort to focus. So here it is.

I’m skipping church today. I’m going to run instead, and I am sure God is going with me.

I love church. Honestly, I do. I always have – even since I was a kid. And for decades, I’d be there pretty much every time the doors were open. I know that’s sort of a hackneyed expression. But it’s true.

That hasn’t changed. But maybe I have.

My faith isn’t any less real or important to me. In fact, I think it has grown much deeper and stronger. It’s what keeps me going. God is personal, and I couldn’t … and wouldn’t live without Him.

I guess I have discovered that sometimes I simply have to shut everything out and find soul-rest in solitude – just me and the One who makes real life happen.

The places where that comes about definitely vary from person to person.

I get that. It may be found on a quiet shoreline, under the leafy shelter of a quiet wooded trail, or along the shoulder of a busy highway.

For me, today I find my sacred spot in a crowded gym, with headphones piping praise and worship music (and even Bible teaching) into my soul. I’m skipping church and forgoing a sweet trail race I had considered doing. It’s what needs to happen today.

So why don’t I just trot off to church and run a few miles later in the day?

This is one of those days when I simply am not fit for congregational company. Our church has nice people (even if not as overtly friendly as in any church we’ve ever attended). The music is nice, and the teaching is tremendous.

Today I have an MS-migraine. (Migraines with multiple sclerosis can be particularly daunting. It’s easy to become something of a hermit when these strike.) And I’ve been running circles around migraines for much of the past week. This course is getting a little old, as you might imagine.

Although I am a very social person, I can’t muster the emotional energy today to go out and make nice in public, especially in a gathering where it takes considerable extra oomph.

I’m soul-tired today.

I’m hoping to stomp and sweat some of the agony away and draw near to the One who refreshes my soul.

Maybe next week, I’ll plunk myself into the pew. But for today, God is meeting me for some one-on-one time on the treadmill. Because sacred spots can be surprising. And God surely smiles when we step out of our schedules to spend time alone with Him.

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