When I began running in my early 30s, I was driven by racing plans, a faster pace, and accruing as many miles as possible throughout my week. If I am being gut-wrenching honest with myself, it was pride that motivated running versus the pure enjoyment of moving my body and improving my health.
Due to chronic overuse of my body and an under-fueled diet, I had many physical consequences as I aged. Although a difficult season, I now view my running injuries and health concerns as a gift from God as they eventually led me to understand proper nourishment, a new relationship with running, but most importantly a deepened walk with Jesus.
One morning, I read Luke 24 about the seven-mile journey of two disciples on the road to Emmaus. These two men were walking from Jerusalem discussing all that happened over the weekend we now know as Easter – Jesus’ crucifixion, the silence of Saturday, and the news of Jesus’ body disappearing from the tomb. As the disciples walked, a man appeared and began asking questions, recalling Scriptures, and bringing clarity to the circumstances. After asking this “man” to come have dinner with them, their eyes were opened and they discovered it was Jesus speaking to them on their seven-mile walk!
This account inspires me so much! Is a similar “Emmaus encounter” possible for all of us as we set out on our morning runs or walks? I would like to suggest an astounding “YES”! Here are four tips to have your own Emmaus journey with Jesus and find new enjoyment on your route today.
1. Begin your run with prayer.
The two disciples on the road to Emmaus “walked along and talked about everything.” (v14) While it is true they were conversing with one another, I always start my morning run talking to Jesus about my “everything” too. Use the model of these two disciples and begin conversing with the God who listens. The circumstances of my life often become more clear as the two of us talk it through as the miles tick away.
2. Invite Jesus to join you by praising Him.
It is clear in Scripture that praise ushers the presence of God into our midst. As you continue on your morning run, include adoration in your prayer time. Psalm 100:4 in the NIV encourages us to “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.”
Worship music is also another sure way to stir your heart to praise! Much like the two disciples, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them.” (v 15) Before you know it, your morning run will no longer feel like exercise but instead a rich conversation with your Best Friend.
3. Utilize Scripture tools or Christian Podcasts intended for listening on the go.
“Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures concerning Himself.” (v 27) There is so much research on the positive brain response during physical activity! Exercise is a prime time to fill our minds with the Truth of God’s Word!
I use the “read aloud” feature on my Bible App to listen to Scripture or turn on a Reving The Word episode on the Revelation Wellness podcast! This mind-body connection during exercise brings clarity to God’s Word and stirs up a fresh excitement for the Lord every day.
4. Don’t stop there! Invite Jesus back home with you!
The best news is this… conversing with Jesus doesn’t have to end when your route does! Invite Him back home with you and stay in step with Him all day long! The two disciples “begged Jesus to stay” and brought him home for dinner! This is what happens after an encounter with Christ! We don’t want it to end! Running with Jesus sets up your day for worship and a continuing prayerful conversation all day long.
Approaching my morning runs with the expectation of a worshipful experience is all the motivation I need to lace up and hit the road. After their seven-mile journey with Jesus, the two disciples asked, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” (v 32) Wow. Isn’t it amazing to think a similar “burning” excitement is available to us every time we move our bodies! These four tips will support your own Emmaus experience, motivate your morning runs and cause your heart to burn with a deeper love for Christ.
In the comments below, share how you intend to run with Jesus or how He has already met you in your workouts!
I’d love to invite you to join us this November on a four-week Gratitude Wellness Journey. This fitness challenge group will encourage us to move our bodies while moving our hearts closer to Christ through the power of gratitude this holiday season. Included are four Revelation Wellness online classes, four discipleship calls, scripture memory and teaching on the power of gratitude. It is $40 to register and space in limited. If you are interested please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!