Running in Place

March 22, 2010 | 27 comments

I had hoped we could run together yesterday morning — side by side, two sisters, tracing the country roads near my home.

It happened this way instead: She ran, and I snapped a few pictures.

I surprised my sister Juliann when I showed up on the route with a camera around my neck. I knelt down on the pavement and struck the pose of a high-fashion photographer.

“Work it! Work it!” I shouted as she trotted my way.

And we laughed at the Sunday-morning silliness.

My sister Juliann and I have been training for a half-marathon that we’re running together on May 2 in Lincoln, Nebraska. My sister-in-law Aimee is running the full marathon. But I’ve been temporarily sidelined by a torn muscle.

This weekend, I ran my miles on an elliptical machine, while looking out a window and longing to feel pavement under my feet.

I want to run with my sisters. Instead, I’ve been running in place. Doctor’s orders.

And life can feel that way sometimes. It can feel like everyone around us is moving ahead, stepping up, making progress, gaining strength. Meanwhile, we’re weak and hurting … and just marking time, like hamsters on spinning wheels.

But these steps we’re taking? They mean something, too. Even when it feels like we’re running in place, God is building our spiritual muscles for our own journeys Home.

My sisters and I are headed for the same finish line, but God is taking us there on different routes. He says to me: “I know the way for you.”

“Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go.”
— Isaiah 30:21

On Saturday, I ran in place for a little more than an hour. ‘Round and ’round my feet went.

Never look back, some folks say. I don’t know about that. Because, every once in a while on these journeys, it’s good to stop and turn around so we can see how far we’ve come.

Or, if you’re running in place, it’s good to look down. (-smile-) Because those digital numbers on the screen of the elliptical machine said my time was not wasted. The numbers said I’d made progress. A little more than an hour after I’d started, I’d done something I’d never done before: I’d run seven miles!

Dear friends, Does it feel like you’re running in place today? May you see your work through the eyes of the Father, who views time and space and distance from an eternal perspective. He knows the way Home. He knows how far you’ve come.

And sisters Juliann and Aimee? I’ll see you two on that road before long ….
Work it, girls!

Photos: My sister, Juliann, running the country roads near my home.

by | March 22, 2010 | 27 comments


  1. A Simple Country Girl

    Jennifer, I have been praying for your body to heal soon. What a wonderful post containing lessons that can be applied to many avenues of our lives.

    And although sometimes it may seem like I am running in place, like you said, I know that God knows from where I have come. He knows my heart. And He knows what I am doing for Him…and for the least of these.

    May your feet pound pavement and gravel soon 😉


  2. elaine @ peace for the journey

    Wish I was running it with you! I desperately need a running friend. How thankful I am for those who run the spiritual race with me, buoy me along despite my seeming lack of progress.

    I think I'm making some friend, and for that I am thankful. Yes, looking back is good–it shows our "length". Keep pressing on. Love you.


  3. Mike Franey

    Your body will be healed soon Jennifer and you too can run with your sister but who would then take the picture? Go girls Go!

  4. jasonS

    Well, right now I just feel like I'm running and running. So much to do and seemingly no time to do it. I do know what it's like too to run in place. I'm thankful that the times and the seasons are in God's hands (even when I'd rather be doing one or the other inevitably).

    Great reminders- thanks!

  5. lynnrush

    Sorry about your torn muscle. I also have a little injury (IT Band). It's tough, isn't it? But press on, my friend. 🙂

  6. Beth.. One Blessed Nana

    Praying that I never just run in place. I want to be going somewhere with Jesus all the time.

    Praying for you to heal!

  7. Billy Coffey

    I once thought that as long as I was running, everything would be okay. Now I know better–you have to be running to somewhere.

    Love your words, Jennifer. Hope you're out there on the roads soon.

  8. ~*Michelle*~

    Prayers for healing Jennifer….all lifted in your name.

    I just love how you mentioned that "it's good to stop and turn around so we can see how far we've come."….how this touches my heart today.

  9. ~*Michelle*~


    Got my soul eyes on…..

    look under your sister's neck (where the zipper meets her collar)


  10. cindy

    Running in place sounds much better than spinning my wheels.

    I wish I had it in me to run 1/2 marathon. Since we lost Joshua I have gained 50 pounds. Food is my comfort. It is always with me as I spin my wheels. Maybe I should run in place. HHmmm….

  11. Marty Duane

    What a great lesson!

    I think I'm running toward that goal sometimes, but I suddenly realize the path I'm taking won't get me there. It is only on that narrow way to Jesus that we reach our Ultimate Goal.

    Great thoughts. 🙂

  12. Carol

    You just go ahead and run in place…do what the doctors say like a good girl….all in His time! Love…

  13. Lyla Lindquist

    I'm thinking of Ezekiel ch. 4.

    For so many days Ezekiel "ran in place" — he practiced in miniature the destruction of Jerusalem, with clay tablets and iron pans. And then he laid on his left side for 390 days, followed by another 40 days on his right.

    I'm thinking, there was a nation to be warned, for crying out loud! But God told him to build and destroy models and lay on his side.

    God's got a funny way of moving forward. Sometimes it's backwards. Sometimes it's in place.

    One step, then the next. (But call me if He tells you to get out the clay.)

  14. Valerie Lynn

    awesome post Jennifer. I pray for your healing so that you can run and complete the race. What an awesome reminder of the race of faith and life we run everyday. Endurance and steadfastness in our faith is the key in winning this race of life!! God bless you my friend.

  15. Jennifer

    That scripture from Isaiah is beautiful. How often have I felt like I was running in place only to hear the whisper saying that He is working miracles that if I could see, I'd know how much progress was being truly made. I pray you are back and running (not in place) soon.

  16. Denise @ A Sacred Longing

    While today is not a running in place day for me, more like a catching my breath moment.

    This last week in Haiti has taken me on new path and I am just beginning to work it out. Looking for His direction and His perspective.


  17. S. Etole

    thank you for using your situation to encourage us …

  18. Rose

    We are keeping you in prayer for the marathon. I like the analogy of how we sometimes run in place with God too! Hugs.

  19. Karen

    This part really spoke to me…"My sisters and I are headed for the same finish line, but God is taking us there on different routes. He says to me: "I know the way for you."…really needed this reminder…thank you…

  20. katdish

    Have I told you lately that you are awesome? You always seem to know just what I need to read.

  21. Carey

    Juliann…if you ever have time to read the comments, you look great! And Jennifer, praying you'll be able to hit that pavement soon!! May the goal be all that much sweeter in the end.

  22. Beth E.

    Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. You'll still reach your destination…in God's timing. 🙂

    What a pretty sister you have, and how wonderful that she lives nearby! Unfortunately, my sister lives six hours away, so we don't get to see each other very often.

    Praying for your quick healing…


  23. Keith Roghair

    half marathon?! go professor! =D

  24. Jackie

    Love this post Jennifer…..I too like to take a glance back and rejoice in the distance He's brought me through!

    Thanking Him that whether running in place or on a fast track, He's coaching and encouraging me all along the way……….What a wonderful Trainer we have!!

    Sweet Blessings!

  25. Bonnie Gray

    I really needed to hear this one, Jennifer! … I was beginning to wonder …

    I never fail to gain some encouragement each time I'm here.
    Thank you!

  26. Tea With Tiffany

    I wish I could meet you in person. I might actually run with you for fun and for Jesus. This is another home run post! Thanks for sharing your God-given gift of words. You are a faithful servant. Hugs and love,

  27. deb

    I think you would inspire running backwards.


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