by Kate Anderson


Any wardrobe (or college student) can tell tales of 5K runs, volunteer opportunities, and other endeavors completed because someone “did it for the shirt.” My own t-shirt collection is rather sparse as few things can compel me to pull my running sneakers on. A long day in the car yesterday provided surprising motivation for me to exercise with my big sister. Little did I know that our gravel-kicking shoes would soon lead us down an untrodden spiritual path.

A mile into our pace, my strides shrank watching the terrain before us incline. My sister broke our thoughtful silence, saying “Think about your arms.” I thought I misheard her, but she repeated herself between labored breaths. “Your legs will only go as fast as your arms go.” Her helpful technique proved useful for fighting up the hill, but the depth of her words had only begun to sink in.

How do I use my arms each day? Are they folded, keeping other people far from my heart? Do they welcome old pals and new friends with warm embraces? Do I find my arms supportively around the shoulders of weary souls? Focusing on my own progress only leads to selfish exhaustion. Perhaps we live most abundantly when we focus on those around us and how we might bless them. On the running path and in life, our legs will only go as far our arms extend to others.

My sister suggested that we run an extra mile out of our way before returning to our house. Seeing my aversion to this change of plans, my sweet sister quietly asked who I was going to offer it up for. Prayer intentions for a dozen family members and friends came to mind, so I suggested that we lift up our steps for whoever needs it most.

Each stride down that bypass road felt heavy and, quite literally, led us away from our destination. Bolstering my weary and undisciplined soul, my sister reminded me, “Every step is a prayer.” What if we lived our lives this way too: Offering up every step, dirty dish, and patient conversation for those who suffer? Perhaps we would find the humility and perspective to persevere with the strength of our gracious God.

Reaching the end of the bypass road, we turned around. My sister smiled and said, “Let’s go home.” This simple nudge forward hides in the background of every busy day. I sadly admit that t-shirts and lesser incentives sometimes distract me from the glorious hope of Heaven. I pray today for humility to set aside worldly motivations of success, popularity, and t-shirts and adopt this mission of love: I do it for Jesus.