I heard a Bible class teacher talking about treadmills today, about treadmill seasons of life. She said her brother hates treadmills, all that running to nowhere. But he runs on them anyway and because he does he’s shaped by the running. She says maybe the treadmill seasons, the times when we’re exhausting ourselves just to keep up, are actually preparation for a calling, a calling we’re not ready for yet. Perhaps all that running in place is training for the track.
I heard that and I got excited, because if the level of effort I’m putting in on this treadmill has any relation to the size of my calling, God must have something big in store.
I am running and so often it seems I’m just running in place. Every day I do the same dirty dishes and make the same messy beds and clean the same filthy rooms and sweep the same dusty floors.
I send emails and get responses that require more emails. I write a blog post and can’t even take the time to enjoy it before I have to write another.
I say no to doughnuts in Bible class and cake at the restaurant and biscotti with my coffee. And then I go home and have to say no ten more times before bed.
I pull weeds from my back yard only to watch them grow back and then pull them again.
I pay off a credit card and get a flat tire. I finally fix the car and the house AC goes out.
I repair a damaged relationship only to find cracks in another one I thought was healthy.
Every night I feel a little closer to something, a little farther down a road. And then I go to sleep and wake up and it’s like the game reset.
At least, that’s how it can feel.
And yes—there’s consolation in the idea that maybe today is hard because something big’s coming tomorrow and God needs me ready.
But I also think maybe it’s not about tomorrow. It’s about what’s happening today. Here. Now. In this moment.
Because while all of life is training and shaping, all of life is a calling, too. A calling isn’t only something we wait for. It’s also something we live every day.
Dishes aren’t just preparing us for something. They are something—an act of hospitality and redemption, a gift of love to our children and spouse.
Dealing with a broken AC isn’t just making us more patient for tomorrow, for some grander purpose, it’s also making us more patient for now, for this very moment with the repairman and our kids running in circles. This moment is a chance to let God’s peace spill out.
Pulling weeds isn’t just teaching me some lesson, it’s reclaiming the ground, doing God’s will on earth, restoring Eden.
And saying no to a doughnut isn’t just strengthening my self-control muscles, muscles I’ll need later. Every “no” counts. Every “no” is an act of defiance, a victory against the powers of evil that would convince me that a doughnut would somehow heal my hurts.
These little things, the things that make up my life, aren’t just preparing me for what God wants to do with me. They are what God’s doing with me.
I can get mixed up and think I’m on a treadmill because the scenery is passing so slowly, because I don’t feel like I’m actually going anywhere or doing anything that matters.
But if I look closely I’ll realize that things are happening. People—friends, co-workers, family—are being loved. God, our God who reorders His world every day, who makes the sun rise anew every second, that God is being loved.
In life, if you’re running, you’re going somewhere. It’s never just for your strengthening. Never just to prepare you. (Although both those things are happening)
God and His creation are blessed by your faithfulness right now.
My husband Justin and I work out together at the YMCA on side by side elliptical machines. We usually talk about our days. We discuss articles we’ve read or hard conversations we’ve had. We work through bite-sized problems. We make plans.
Today, after a long conversation about a project we’re partnering on, I looked at him and said, “Look at us, solving all the world’s problems on an exercise machine.”
He laughed and said, “So much for going nowhere.”