Three minutes passed. I slowed the treadmill back down to a walk again, but it wasn't over. Because then my mind wandered back to all the other beautiful loved ones who are running from God and making harmful decisions as they do so. So, even though I was so exhausted that my side was aching and my legs felt like pudding and I was huffing and puffing at the rate of a freaking train, I accelerated the treadmill back into a steady run again.
Galatians 6 (I placed part of the chapter at the beginning of this work) talks about bearing one another's burdens. Helping them run the race. Encouraging them. So this time, as I ran another three minutes, I didn't do it for myself. I did it for them.
I run this race for those You have entrusted to me, God. I felt myself struggling to keep up with the pace of the treadmill, but I forced myself to continue. God, pick them back up. Let them run their races again. Let them pursue You again, not at a crawl, but at a full-out run, and let nothing stand in their pathways! And--God--let me help them! I will run their race alongside them! I do this for them, God!
When the three minutes were up, I slowed back down to a walk, but I knew I wasn't finished. I wasn't done. Today's race wasn't complete for me. I allowed myself a moment to catch my breath before speeding the treadmill up to my fastest speed yet. And as I ran this time, I prayed aloud, each person by name, that they could become fatigued of their sins, that their spiritual muscles would ache from the dangerous deeds they committed, that they would collapse by the side of the paths they'd chosen that led away from God, and that God would deliver them back to the race again, and this time, that He would give them the energy to finish strong in the end. Tears welled in my eyes as I ran. I was so tired, so beyond exhausted, but I had to do this for them.
I became so tired that I couldn't even formulate prayers, so bone-weary that all I could do was whisper their names over and over again with every footstep. I knew that God would hear those whispers for the prayers that they truly were.