“Let us press on to know the Lord,” – Hosea 6:3
One year ago today, I graduated college. I got all dressed up in a shirt and tie, tossed my gown on, and desperately tried to make my cap fit just right. Those things are awkward hats. I know there are tiny labels saying “Front” or “Back” so you don’t get confused, but even when you wear it right, it just doesn’t fit well.
Life outside of college was even more awkward. For starters, I finally had a break after going 11 terms straight (two summers in a row with a few classes). And if that wasn’t enough, I still had to wrap my head around the fact that for the first time in 19 years, I didn’t have to go to school. The realization of my new-found freedom was thrilling. But yet terrifying.
It suddenly meant that I was truly on my own. I didn’t have any obligations – apart from my part-time job, which demanded two days of my week – to compel me to get out of bed before noon or to read a book or to even do my laundry. Everything was on my shoulders the moment I stepped off the platform with my U of O diploma in hand (or, rather, my diploma cover).
In this past year, I haven’t really done much. One thing I have started, though, is to run. A lot. When I first dusted off my old running shoes and jogged a couple blocks, I realized something very quickly: I miss high school P.E. Back then, I had P.E. every day – and during my senior year, I had it twice a day. We would run a little, do some push-ups, do some sit-ups, stretch, and play some sort of game on a daily basis. I never had to worry about keeping in shape because my P.E. classes were doing enough for me. But now, freshly out of school altogether, I have to keep myself in shape.
Running those first few times was exhausting – especially for an asthmatic like me. Eventually, though, half-miles turned into miles and miles turned into two miles all because I had made up my mind to keep at it – to keep going. All my life I had never run more than two or three miles at a time. So when I ran a little over five miles yesterday, I was little surprised.
“Try another lap,” I thought as I jogged along a loop on Pre’s Trail. “Go one more mile,” I thought again as I ran past where I usually stopped. After that last self-push, I ended up running nearly two miles more. When I looked down at my Nike+ SportsBand and saw that I had gone over five miles, I really couldn’t believe it.
Of course my SportsBand tracked almost a half of a mile more than what I had actually run, but still, I had run more than the distance of a 5k. As my Cross Training friends would say, I PR-ed. And it was all because I made up my mind to push myself – to test myself to see what I was capable of doing. I was truly surprised.
Over the past couple of weeks at Cross Training, school’s final days have constantly been in discussion. For some, it was their last term ever as an undergrad. For others, it was simply the last term of the school year. No matter what, though, everyone has been looking forward to this upcoming summer. Be it a vacation, a wedding, returning home, or just not having homework; someone has always had something to look forward to. While I love weddings and vacations, I can’t help but look at this summer not as a break from the norm, but rather an opportunity.
Last year I didn’t push myself. I made up my mind to ease into the normal life routine with jobs and paychecks and bills and groceries and blah, blah, blah. No doubt I like this routine; it’s predictable and therefore comfortable. But it’s also safe. Maybe even too safe. When I pushed myself to keep running those five miles, my body felt the best it has ever felt. Nothing hurt when I was done. And when I woke up this morning, I wasn’t sore. It truly was the greatest run I’ve had my entire life even if it wasn’t the fastest. My only question from last night and for this upcoming summer is: What would it be like if I pushed myself to know my God?
This goes beyond having more daily devotions, Bible studies, and church services. It’s about trusting God with the decisions I make – like maybe moving up to Portland. It’s about giving in to those moments of inspiration to write. It’s about exercising a little creativity for the moments I’m bored instead of finding something to pass the time with. It’s about venturing into the unfamiliar. It’s about meeting new people – people you might not normally hang out with. It’s about asking that girl out. It’s about believing that, when you follow God and love and live as Jesus did, nothing is impossible.
A week ago I went to First Baptist’s Wednesday night service, which was simply a video from the Sunday prior. In that message, Ben Cross evaluated goals First B had set in years past and talked about new goals they were setting for what lies ahead. All the talk of having a goal or a mission led me to wonder what would my own goal look like? Would it be all the things listed above? Or would it be something else entirely? This is where we come back to that “[pressing] on to know the Lord” business that Hosea was talking about.
God wants to help us set goals for the seasons ahead – both near and far. He wants us to seek His counsel in everything we do not because that’s the only way our dreams are ever going to come true, but because that’s the only way we’re ever going to surprise ourselves. And that’s the only way God’s going to show off His talent while we’re paying attention.
Since I no longer have the summer breaks I did when I was in school, it’s probably best to stop thinking of summer as a break. Instead, I’ll think of it as a season of opportunity. Will I take advantage of it by pushing myself beyond my known limitations or will I try to cruise through it? In my experience, cruising through life is only truly enjoyable when you’re doing something you thought you’d never do. Like running five miles.
Take advantage of this summer whether you’re graduating or not. Turn off the X-Box and get outside. Pray, read, and worship with friends. Do something that you didn’t think you’d ever do before.