God's timing

Originally Appeared in : 9825-12/6/18

Nine years ago, I was part of a local running club that was training for a half-marathon. I loved this group and all the time we spent together. It was a good season where my five sons were all young enough to not have too many activities going on, and I was able to sneak out three days a week for group runs that took me all over our city.


I’d been eyeing a half marathon since college and this group made that goal seem possible. Running in a pack made reaching those higher miles possible. I even found a friend with my pace who also had five sons. We had so much to talk about as we covered those miles. 


On the day of our 10-mile run — the highest mileage I had ever gone and the last big run before the official race several weeks later — the strangest thing happened. There I was running down a long stretch in mile six or seven and I just knew it. I was pregnant.


A few days later I confirmed this, and that was the end of my half marathon efforts. This would be my sixth baby, and my last pregnancy had involved lots of bedrest and scary symptoms of early labor. Frankly, I thought having another baby was irresponsible on our part and I was worried and a little embarrassed. 


And yet, here I was. I had a lot of feelings but mostly I was questioning God and his wisdom. It wasn’t enough that I was disappointed about not running my race. I worried my running partner would feel let down by me. We had come so far and now...this.


But my biggest concern was my sweet sister, who was in the throes of infertility. She and her husband had been trying for several years to get pregnant and here I was, having a sixth baby when she couldn’t even have one. It felt like a terrible betrayal.


Even though I understand free will and personal choices, I had a lot of questions for God. I thought it was really mean and unkind of him on many levels to allow this to happen. But he did and eventually I saw the foolishness of my attitude.


Right after our sixth baby was born, sweet precious Isabel, I tried to jump right back into my race training. It didn’t work. By then my body was tired, and my schedule was crazy. The boys were getting older and our afternoons and evenings were now filled with practice and big kid homework and games and catching our breath. Heading out the door to a running group was impossible.


All these emotions and memories came flooding back last week as I crossed the finish line of my first ever half-marathon race. I did it, finally, nine years later. The timing was right, and I realized I could train on my own, doing long runs around our block. It wasn’t as glamorous as long runs through the city, but 20 times around our neighborhood got the job done.


Nine years later, those emotions seem like ancient history. I’m embarrassed in some ways that I doubted God’s plan. But I’m learning lately that God isn’t put off by our weakness, by our bad attitudes and bratty behavior. He loves us still and waits patiently for us to learn to trust him.
God is faithful. 


Because now I know that the race was just a small thing compared to all the beauty of life. The gift of Isabel was way better than running that race. While I struggled in the moment with switching gears, time showed me the truth of what really matters. Back then I wanted what I wanted, and I had to learn to trust. 


Better than all that is the gift of the three babies my sister and her husband now have. Back when I had to tell her I had another baby on the way, we didn’t know what God had in store for her — the beautiful gift of her own children in his time.


Learning to trust in God is scary. But he proves himself trustworthy over and over again. Perhaps we will spend a lifetime learning that lesson. It surely is wonderful when we open ourselves to believing it.


Rachel Swenson Balducci is a freelance writer and member of Most Holy Trinity Church, Augusta. She can be reached at

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