As a Girls’ Minister, I am always looking for different, creative ways to pour into each girl’s life. When one of my senior girls approached me about running a half marathon with her… I thought “what an awesome opportunity to meet her right where she is”. After recruiting two of our junior girls to run with us, we began training. Throughout this process I was reminded of the importance of community for the believer.
Community Takes Commitment
To be honest, it took me a couple of weeks to get committed. Why? Because I was afraid the three girls I was running with would not fulfill their commitment. Once I saw that they were firm in their decision to run, their training pushed me to train. Once commitment comes, trust follows. In my running community, I was able to trust them to point me to truth, even when I did not feel like enduring for the prize. Linking arms with a community in your run towards Jesus keeps your eyes focused on our hope and His promises.
Community Is Not Always Pretty
Let’s be honest—training for a race isn’t pretty. You must endure through muscle cramps, bumps, bruises, nasty weather, and unmentionable troubles. The road of training gets difficult and different curve balls are thrown at you. Your community gets to see the worst of you. They know the good, bad, and ugly. Yet, community with other like-minded believers is one of the greatest displays of God’s grace. Even in the midst of our ugly mess, He pursued us, and He clothed us with his salvation and covered us in His righteousness (Isaiah 61:10). He knows me intimately, yet chooses to love me and clothe me. This is the purpose of community—to take me as I am. When community looks at me, they do not see my sin, they see Christ righteousness.
Community Pushes You To Endure
The worst part of any half marathon is the training. Who wants to take 3-4 days out of their week to train, while your knees are screaming at you to stop? And who wants to take hours of a beautiful Saturday to run 10 miles? If this sounds enjoyable to you—you are crazy (but I am sure you are awesome, and I am not judging you right now). Enduring is not easy. However, community exists to remind you that the Lord is faithful and His promises remain true. Community reminds you that this race is WORTH RUNNING.
I am confident that I would not have trained or endured through this race without the community of girls running with me. When someone would lose focus, we would push each other to keep our eyes on the prize. When the terrain got tough, we were there to encourage one another. When one stumbled, we were there to pick them up. This is true community. Even when you do not feel you can get out of bed, even when the days get rough, even when you do not have the strength to obey—you find strength in the fact that you are not in this race alone. Isolation for the believer is detrimental, but community brings about hope and perseverance. My favorite part about community is that when one, by the grace of Jesus, endures or overcomes, you get to celebrate! And who doesn’t like a little party—with cake and ice cream.
Hayley Gaston has the privilege of serving as the Girls Ministry Associate at First West in West Monroe, LA. She earned a degree in Family and Child Studies at Louisiana Tech University with an emphasis in Family Science. After volunteering at First West and then joining the team as an intern, Hayley was hired as the Girls Ministry Associate. Since a young age, she has had the heart of an older sister, always reaching out to the younger generation of girls. Hayley is a firm believer in leadership and discipleship and loves that it can happen over the dinner table or on a run.