“Renewed Strength, Faith, and Other Blessings” by Alana Enabnit

Renewed Strength, Faith, and Other Blessings   by Alana Enabnit

Before the school year started, if someone would have asked me what God would teach me during my first cross country season, I would have said perseverance. Perseverance is the only thing that ran through my mind after I received the call about my stress fracture. I was sure it was going to be a season about just making it through and coming back strong and healthy for track. So, if one would have told that teary eyed runner who was sitting by the beach that day that this season she would further discover the strength one has through Jesus Christ, she probably would have doubted every word.

Later in the season when things began to look brighter and my first opportunity to compete was just around the corner; I slipped and fell during a workout. While falling I managed to twist my knee in a way that made the pain seem similar to a meniscus tear. Again, the word perseverance rang through my ears and I knew that God would make my faith stronger through trusting his plan. This time it was much more difficult to have hope in his plan. There were only a limited number of meets left, and we knew if I had a meniscus tear, my season would be over. The day before my MRI, my coach sat me down and told me we would talk about red shirting the season after my official MRI results came back. The trainer and doctor all believed it was a meniscus tear and told me not to be surprised by the MRI results. God once again was going to teach me about perseverance.  At this point I wondered how much of this perseverance I was going to have to take in one season, but I would not lose faith because no matter how much I did not want to admit it, I knew God had a plan. My season had not even begun and it looked as though it would end, but then my trainer got the MRI results.  With an enormous smile she told me my meniscus was fully intact, and all I had was IT band syndrome. This would only be the first example of God showing his miraculous power to me during cross country.

With help of my trainers, a cortisone shot, and encouragement from my teammates and coaches, I was able to participate in the next two meets leading up to the national meet. Being able to make it to the national meet was a blessing in itself. At that point I was thankful I could help an amazing group of women go after a national trophy, and individual placement was not a huge concern.  The race had a horrible beginning as I fell in the first 400 meters.  At the moment of the fall I felt as if I had already failed my team and had no hope of finishing well. However, today I can still say that when I hopped off the ground I felt the Lord’s strength power me to catch up with my head teammate. It was probably the fastest kilometer in my life, and I still remember my mom screaming, “You can soar on wings like eagles honey,” as she referred to my favorite verse, Isaiah 40:31.

but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

The more I trusted in the Lord’s strength, the more people I passed. I finished in 10th place and became an All-American. In that race I jumped from doubt to faith, and the Lord’s strength carried me through. In finishing the race, I realized perseverance was something I did learn over the season, but more importantly I had renewed my belief in God’s miraculous, loving power. I was just thankful I could run, but to be able to use my ability to race for the Lord was the biggest blessing of all.

Going from cross country to track required much transitioning for me. During cross country, I never truly had the opportunity to train with a lot of my teammates due to the fact I was allowed limited running and had to do a lot of cross training. Though I still had an enormous amount of support from all of my teammates and coaches, I never truly realized how much I depended on them until the start of indoor track. I will be the first to admit I am one of those people who like to be independent with everything and do not like to seek help from others.  As the season went on, I began to discover how many wonderful people God had surrounded me with. Throughout the season, I learned about God’s grace and power through my own struggles, and my teammate’s personal trials. I was able to train with a running miracle every day, and her faith showed me how God’s strength is made perfect though our hardships.  Never before did I have running buddies that not only pushed me physically but helped me develop spiritually. Two of my training partners were head of our team Bible study, and each week many others and I would meet for fellowship. This group of people not only gave me support in track, but they gave me a greater determination to grow spiritually.

As a result of this greater determination, a new goal was scribbled on to my season goal sheet. I wanted to make sure that I would praise God with every stride in every race and make my running a part of my personal testimony. After much prayer and consideration on this new goal, a strange event resulted in a solution. In one of my very first indoor races, I was grounded from my stopwatch by my coach because I looked at it too many times during the race. For the next race, I knew that even without my stopwatch I would look at my hand just by habit, so instead of looking at a watch, I would write a Bible verse on my hand. The first verse I chose was again my favorite verse, Isaiah 40:31. Throughout the season multiple verses were written on my hand, and each helped me through every race in a different way. I began each meet day by searching for a verse, but most of the time the verse found a way to me instead. One time, I tossed my Bible upon my bed and it fell open to a perfectly applicable verse for the day. Little “God moments” like that, are what keep my faith strong.

For the national outdoor meet, God’s word again gave me the endurance for the competition. The night before the 10,000, our coach told Laura Sigmund and I, if one of us won we need to have our hands in the air. Both of us laughed and said how cocky that would look. However, the next morning when I opened my Bible I stumbled upon Psalms 63:3-4.

Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.

From that verse, I decided I would lift my hands at the end of the race no matter the outcome. I was so blessed that even if I didn’t perform how I wanted to, there was no reason not to praise the Lord for an incredible season.  From the beginning laps to the final, I set my mind on the Lord and how thankful I was for his blessings. So when I crossed the finish line, my hands were not an “I won” celebration, but a “Praise the Lord, for He is good” gesture. I believe the feeling of praise was mutual between Sigmund and I. Sigmund, who could have overtaken me at the end of my race if she was healthy, had all the reason for praise. A week prior to the competition she just started running again and her participation in both races was uncertain. Again, God demonstrated his miraculous power through human weakness.

Because Sig and I were both doubling back for the 5k and our full strength would be questionable, the verse for our final race together would be the same one that started the season, Isaiah 40:31. The verse was so applicable that it did not matter if I had used it in multiple other situations for encouragement. We were in need of renewed strength, and only the Lord could provide it for us. That is exactly what He did as we finishes one two again. In our final race together, God demonstrated his power yet again.

In conclusion of this whirlwind of a freshman year, I can say that God did teach me perseverance from day one, but so much more than that was acquired. I was blessed to have experienced God’s absolutely perfect, loving power and miraculous ability to show his strength through human weakness, as well as have the opportunity to learn how to share it.