Tori Wells ran so often that it became part of her identity, until an injury forced her to slow down and helped her to deepen her faith.


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I’ve worn the label of “Duracell Bunny” as a badge of honour for almost two decades. At a meeting to re-enter school at 17, following a failed gap year trying to make it as an Olympic runner, my dad said to the headmistress: “Just exhaust her and she’ll be OK.” He knows, and others see, that I operate on the further reaches of the energetic scales, and I’ve enjoyed that identity status. At a previous church I was known as “running Tori” – mostly to differentiate between the three Victorias who attended – and I loved the strength of this affiliation to a hyper level of energy.

But then, when our own strength becomes the narrative, God has a way of reminding us that he is the only affiliation we need. For the past couple of months I have been forced to fast from sport on account of a persistent injury. I have admitted in the past that the worst version of me is the injured version, but something different happened this time. Stopping running restarted my faith. I found I had access to a treasure only the slow moments with God reveal.

The worst version of me is the injured version, but something different happened this time. Stopping running restarted my faith.

Now, there is always a counter-narrative and I hear the cries of Eric Liddell orators already who ask, but can’t the treasure of God be found in a good run? I don’t deny it. I have pedestalled that argument in my own life a considerable amount and will be the first to defend sport as the sturdiest builder of community. But, in the moments that now stand silent of the mile-marker bleeps and Strava Kudos notifications, I think God’s love has taken back its mighty roar.

In the quiet of this sport-less life God has slowly unpicked the root of the real injury. I strive after the Achilles heel of Galatian 1: seeking the approval of man and not God. The irony doesn’t go unnoticed by me that it’s my Achilles heel that is injured – something called insertional tendinitis. My energetic competitiveness runs deep and has derailed me more than once to being motivated for achievement; showing up to ParkRun to tally the most attendances or adding extra miles to my socials for the likes. But if striving for the wrong source of approval is the root sin, what is the route out?

I don’t think a sport-less life is God’s design. Without getting into the semantics of the word sport, I think everyone welcomes some level of activity in life. We were meant to “run the race marked out for us” and “walk and not grow weary, run and never stop” but we are also told multiple times to be still and abide. I’m not keen to conclude that giving up sport is the solution. And the injured me can’t act upon the opposite advice.

There must be a compliment of rest and activity that doesn’t polarise one to top of the podium and other to the sinbin. And so, whilst I’ve been rehabbing my foot, I’ve also been rehabbing my faith. I’ve learnt that the first thing to do when pain appears in life is to get into the presence of Jesus. I love the story of the road to Emmaus because in it I see that the first thing God gifts to the disciples in their time of pain is Jesus himself. Jesus is suddenly there, walking side by side with them in their pain along the road and his presence is so good their hearts begin to wake up, their hearts are “burning” within them.

Forced to surrender my fitness to God, I’ve had the best heart workout in years.

My heart has gone from burning calories to burning with Christ and I’ve learnt that if you draw close, he will give your heart exactly what it needs. There is no pit too deep that Jesus cannot lift us out of, but the danger is we don’t always come to him. In pain we run away from his presence and not towards it. Basically, pain keeps us on the run from Jesus’ presence. But my literal ability to run away from Jesus has gone and so I find myself not walking side by side with Jesus along the road, but feasting with him face to face in Emmaus.

So, forced to surrender my fitness to God, I’ve had the best heart workout in years. It’s made space for God to expose and rehab the injuries and desires of my heart that I’ve been sprinting past and ignoring. It’s not the solution for everyone but in this slowing, God’s voice has got my attention like the sound of the last lap bell. Although my running has stopped for now, my faith has confidently restarted.