October 18, 2010
Milton Berle said, “My doctor told me that jogging could add years to my life. I think he was right. I feel 10 years older already.” Many of you would agree with the comedian. You are the same ones who respond when I talk about going for a run, “Was someone chasing you?”
The truth is, yes. I am being chased by an old man, by my geriatric future who can’t walk to the mailbox without getting an oxygen treatment. I am being chased by the image of me, 10 years from now, tired and out of shape, unable to take a walk with my grandsons, much less play ultimate Frisbee with them. I am being chased by obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Edward Stanley said, “Those who think they don’t have time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”
Do I like to run? The answer to that question really doesn’t matter; the bottom line is that I need to run. I need to “discipline my body and bring it into subjection,” as Paul said. He also said, “Bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” There are three ways physical exercise profits. First, it helps me feel better and have more energy for the work God has called me to do for the days I have left. Second, it is one way I provide for my family. Think about it. If you die early because you were not a good steward of your physical health, are you being the best possible provider and protector for your family? Third, I run because discipline begets discipline. In other words, if I get self-indulgent with my physical appetites, I get lazy with my spiritual disciplines as well. Anybody who runs will understand this: The battle is not with your body but with your mind. Discipline your mind in physical exercise and you are strengthening your mind to follow the Lord and obey his commands as well.
General George S. Patton, U.S. Army general in World War II and Olympian (pentathlon) in 1912, said, “Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.”
I run on the rural roads around my house, and always face the traffic, as runner should do. Here is what kills me, and thankfully, it hasn’t yet: Drivers who seem to be playing chicken, seeing how close they can get without hitting a runner. Most of the time, there is no one coming in the other direction, so there is no reason why the driver barreling down on me could not move over. I am hugging the white line, or moving onto the shoulder if there is one, but they pass by within a foot of me anyway. I always wonder why anyone would take such a risk: a sudden sneeze or spasm or a bee in the car could mean death for one or both of us.
Go for a run or a walk this morning after you finish reading the paper. It will be good for you. If you go out for a drive in the country, please wave when you motor past me … in the other lane.