When I first started running, I really never had the opportunity to experience the joy and fellowship with running with other runners. Now, I have found encouragement, joy, motivation and many friendships running alongside my Run for God friends.
A couple of years ago, God rekindled my love of running along with writing. I would never have dreamed that God had something bigger in my future. All I knew is I wanted to do more for Him. I ran more miles, wrote more and began pursuing publishing a runners devotional when God pointed me in a different direction. On September 20, 2012, I stepped out in faith in Centerville, GA and lead my first Run for God class as an Instructor. I was so excited to share my love of this great sport and the love of Christ. I thought, “What better combination?” What I didn’t expect was the blessings I would receive from this ministry.
God truly blessed this ministry from the beginning. He had his hand in the group, venue, supplies, and financially. There were times I honestly didn’t know how things would turn out, but God always came through at the best time. There were a total of 11 individuals who signed up for the class. I have to admit, there were times that some of the members did not know what to expect, but then again, I could understand- I had been in their shoes once before. This time was different, God is their faithful trainer. They were not alone in this journey. This was very encouraging and exciting!
Over the next few weeks, I watched relationships transform, prayers become answered, endurance develop, and faith tested within the group. I saw God working in this group. I saw God working in me. God was transforming our group, preparing us to become better witnesses for Him mentally, physically and spiritually. Philippians 2:1-2 says, “If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship by the spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” We were becoming of the same mind and body for Christ. Cool, huh?
Not only does the Bible say that “fellowship” is the evidence of walking in the light (1 John 1:7), but it also says that “loving the brethren” is evidence of that walk. “He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him” (1 John 2:10). This shows that there is a strong, inseparable relationship between “fellowship” and “loving our brothers and sisters.” This group showed me what loving our brethren truly means. Fellowship with our brothers and sisters is an exercise of love bringing us towards spiritual maturity. I think our relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ is a barometer that measures our spiritual temperature. Our degree of love toward our brothers and sisters is the gauge that shows our love for God. “…If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us” (1 John 4:12).
Fellowship with the body of Christ is where love is tested and proven. It is the opportunity to learn how to love one another, it develops our character. We are benefited by both, the strengths and weaknesses of the fellowship. The mature ones help to strengthen and encourage us, while the weaknesses in the less mature give us the opportunity to practice – test our spiritual growth in such characteristics as patience, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, etc. (All spiritual virtues must be challenged and tested to bring forth progress.)
I believe that through our strengths and weaknesses, we keep each other from stumbling and become passionate as a group to mature as Christians and share a desire to be more like Christ. There is a strong inseparable relationship between our Run for God group, which makes our fellowship together such as blessing.
I love this verse found in 1 John 1:3-4 which sums our experience in this past Run for God 5K Challenge, “We repeat, we really saw and heard what we are now writing to you about. We want you to be with us in this–in this fellowship with the Father, and Jesus Christ his son. We write and tell you about it, so that our joy may be complete.” I am writing to tell you we have been experiencing this fellowship with one another and with our Father and it is truly awesome! I am exploding with joy just writing about it! Can you imagine how the disciples were trying to write their experiences and emotions down into words for us to understand?
As Christians, we need the constant preaching and teaching from God’s Word, the atmosphere of worship and praise, the encouragement which we draw from our Christian brothers and sisters, the opportunities of Christian service, and we need the opportunity to practice love toward other Christians. By this you will truly experience the blessings of fellowship. I am excited to about the many more individuals that God will knit together in this ministry in His name.