I’m no Liddell, in that I’m not fast, swift. But I can run far. And when I do, I feel His pleasure. Two or three times a week I head out on the lunch hour and run far. Sure, the sun’s directly overhead and lately its been 90+ degrees at noon, but I’m aware that not everyone gets to run in the shadow of Pikes Peak, so I ‘suck it up, buttercup.’
Here’s the deal. For me, running is praying. No, I’m not talking while striding…but thinking, paying attention to who’s on my mind at the time. And I ask God to do his magic. For example, I often think about my parents, so I say ‘Lord, this next stretch is for Dad and Mom.’ And I try to keep pushing hard because I know some days are hard for them but my hope and prayer is that as I keep running, so can they, that somehow, someway what I’m doing is connected to them and how they’re doing. Or like today, I was thinking about my wife’s friend who has had her life turned upside down, completely. So I said ‘Lord, this next hill’s for Joanne. Take each striving step and reach her, God, somehow, and help her keep grasping for every breath.’ I was also thinking today of my littlest girl and the fact that she’s got spacers on her teeth now that will turn into braces soon, and her speech is a little garbled and school starts next week and fourth graders can be mean little buggers, so I ran and ran far and prayed that each lung-burning step along Cottonwood Creek would somehow be God-transformed into courage for my littlest girl, that she’d keep on going and not lose heart no matter what. And today I ran by houses and businesses and traffic lanes lined with cars and I thought about all the people hidden in them and cried ‘God, help us are we’re trying to make ends meet or figure out how to be married or grieve the loss of a spouse or whatever…God, please, take my feet and let them be/swift and beautiful for them.’
So if you should see me running during the sun’s apex and think ‘what a fool’, well, you’re right. But what a fool believes, he sees…and I just might be running and praying for you, that you’d not give up, that’d you keep going, one foot in front of the other, no matter how hard and how disappointing and how ruthless this world can be…that’d you feel somehow, somewhere deep in your bones that life’s worth it, that hanging in there counts for something, that winning is not the goal, never has been, but running is, in all the variations on that theme, that staying in the human race may just be the most courageous and noble and God-honoring act there is, so don’t give up. Please don’t.
There’s a fool out there who still believes. And I run, and run far. Amen.