Running With God Every Step of the Way-Obsie Birru

Obsie Birru at the Roy Griak Invitational XC Meet 2011 running for Grand View College

Throughout my years of running my faith has really grown and strengthened in the past four years of my career. I have met and been inspired by runners and coaches who share the same passion for running and God as I do. It has truly been a wonderful gift from God to have met so many inspiring runners, who also feel Gods presence in their life.  These past four years I have prayed that I do everything on and off the track in His glory and honor.  I am sure people always think of me as an odd runner because I like to make friends with different runners wherever I go.  Usually runners think they have to stay away from their competition, because of the threat of racing one another. However, I have always been the kind of runner to go up and say “Hi” to my competitors and never have felt the pressure to partake to any before race rituals.  I always tell people around me to just pray and to know that in the end everything is going to be okay.  I feel like when I am out there the Lord is working within me and that no matter how the results stack up he will always be with me.

At track and cross country meets people always ask me if I’m nervous for my upcoming race and I reply with a simple “No”. I believe that’s because I know that no matter what direction things go God is with me every step I take and that eventually everything will fall into place. As soon as I start to feel my nerves coming on I recite the verse from Timothy 1:7 to myself, “God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid.  He gave us a spirit of power and love and self-control.”  Every time I toe that line during a track or cross country meet I know that I am not alone.  My God is known for working miracles and he decides the outcome no matter the event.  I hope that his work through me helps reveal his glory to all those around me. 

To many people, I have become known as the happy runner and they always ask me why I’m so happy?  How else can you be, when the Lord has given you so much joy?  I choose to share my faith through my running in such a joyful emotion. That’s not to say I haven’t had difficult times with running.  Most runners out there know that running becomes your identity.  All competitive runners identify others with certain times you have hit in particular instances within your career.   When you are not up to par with your normal times, it can make you question a lot of things within your running.  The path becomes such an emotional roller-coaster with many high and low points.  For instance, 2011 was such a great year for me, an indoor national title in the 5k, 3 all American honors followed by two outdoor titles and a cross country national title this past year.   When getting ready for indoor track, I set some big goals for myself.   Halfway through my indoor season I hit the lowest point of my collegiate career. It put me in such a dark place. Running was just not going well at all and my failures on the track started to affect my joyous personality.  However, without even realizing it, while heading to conference, I seemed to have gotten my spark of joy back.

As we headed to indoor nationals during the beginning of March, I felt like my confidence and love for racing was restored.  I won the prelims of the 5k on Thursday afternoon and everything seemed on pace for the finals on Saturday.  As I woke up and got ready Saturday morning everything that could go wrong went wrong, but I brushed it off and acted like nothing was wrong.   That day as my mile final got under way an awful feeling started to come over me and everything began to fall apart with only 800m of the race remaining. While experiencing so much pain in the race, I thought about all of the disappointments I brought upon my teammates and coaches who had helped me get this far. That is when I began to feel hopeless and finished a disappointing 7th place. After the mile I tried to put everything behind me and focus on the 5k later that afternoon.  Little did I know the 5k would also prove to have an awful ending.

This is the point where I sit back and look at running as a wave and in that wave there are high and low points. No matter what point the wave has reached, you have got to learn to ride it. During my low points, I have learned that the best way to deal with it is to turn to the faith others have in me and that can help strengthen my own faith.  For some reason anytime I am experiencing such low points I feel like I need some sort of sign to keep on going. When this occurs the bible verse Philippians 1:6 comes to mind, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  This verse helps insure me of God’s presence and my faith is strengthening not only just running but in all aspects of my life.  I feel like this because of my trust in God and I know that there is no situation I cannot handle when I’m with Him.  I rely on his strength to help push through because through Him all things are possible. I am so overjoyed and happy that He has chosen me to share His name with others around through my running so that many other runners can get to know Him and be saved.   I am so thankful for the gift of running, but more importantly for the unbroken faith that God has given me.

A season like this is hard for many runners to come back from.  However, for me I feel like this is not the case.  I feel like God has given me so many people that encourage me and believe in me even on the days I give up on myself.  He has given me faith that has helped me persevere through his word and all the caring people He has put in my life.   I feel that He will continue to strengthen my faith in Him and help me to stay hopeful in the plans He has for my running and life. I pray that I continue my life in taking every step with Him.