prayers of a fool…

Eric Liddell said ‘when I run I feel His pleasure.’

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.

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16 Comments

  1. Tracy Smith on August 18, 2011 at 6:49 am

    Love it…love it!

  2. Carolyn on August 18, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Did I detect a hint of my favorite Doobie Brothers’ song in there? That was a lovely post. Helps bring out the fact that we all have “prayer languages”. I don’t mean tongues, which are okay too. But we don’t always do our best praying in the same way that others do. Some of my best time with God happens in the shower. I wondered if it was the metaphor of getting clean, but have decided that it is just the noise of the water that blocks out all else so I can talk to God and hear some things too. My husband has learned to utilize the time stuck in traffic to pray. And you run… that is awesome. May you have many fruitful strides ahead of you!

    • thebeautifuldue on August 18, 2011 at 4:50 pm

      Carolyn, yes, that is my very favorite DB tune…we have a tendency to keep prayer on a leash, don’t we?, when it may be the most free experience there is…

  3. jewelz57 on August 18, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Great post, great words of encouragement. Such a powerful metaphor of life… as the steps move the awareness of God is moving along with them. Some days it’s hard to keep going in this season of unemployment. You begin to wonder if it is ever going to end. Truth is we never thought we’d be here, but here we are 5 months and counting, waiting for another door to open, trusting God as much as we know how. But we have to keep moving….. Thanks John, beautiful post….

    • thebeautifuldue on August 18, 2011 at 4:51 pm

      Julie, I will now think/pray of you when I run…don’t give up.

      • jewelz57 on August 19, 2011 at 3:21 am

        Thank you John… truly

  4. katie on August 18, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    A moving post (about movement… ha.)
    Running as compassion, “suffering with.”
    It’s not about the getting somewhere; it’s about the breathing, ascending, descending, and moving for others, with God. The discipline of prayer. I love it.

    • thebeautifuldue on August 18, 2011 at 4:53 pm

      Thanks, Katie…running as compassion? Now I like that, alot!

  5. Gary on August 19, 2011 at 1:34 am

    A RUNNER’S PRAYER

    God,
    Give me courage to run the race.
    Help me to persevere as you taught us.
    Grant me the strength to finish strong.
    Honor me with your presence on my journey.
    Allow me to be a GraceRunner this day.

    Oh, Lord…
    One more breath…
    One more step…
    One more mile…
    FINISH LINE…
    This is my prayer.
    I can do all things through YOU who strengthens me!
    Amen.

    • thebeautifuldue on August 19, 2011 at 3:02 am

      Thanks, Gary…great prayer.

    • jewelz57 on August 19, 2011 at 3:22 am

      Gary, this prayer speaks to me right here, right now. After a day of disappointing “no thank you’s” to the resumes we sent out I needed to remember. Bless you!

  6. […] This post hit me square and moved me surely. Many of my friends and family know that my dad is currently battling stage four brain cancer and that the name of our fundraising team (Angels Among Us 5K to raise funds for research at the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University) is: TEAM JIM – “…one foot in front of the other…” The quote is philosophy on this journey. It has translated into my own growing love of running as I better my health and strengthen my determination for the sake of him, my wife, and my kids. But, after reading this post, I shall pray that all my runs and my work be dedicated to others. I found this blog through the blog author’s association with my favorite author Brennan Manning and I will certainly be continuing to follow its new posts. Eric Liddell said ‘when I run I feel His pleasure.’ 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 … Read More […]

    • thebeautifuldue on August 19, 2011 at 3:04 am

      When Jim crosses my mind, I will run/pray for him as well…thanks for taking the time to comment…

  7. kay on August 19, 2011 at 5:03 am

    what a powerful message! i don’t run. i used to walk for miles. it was my “anger management” and it worked wonders! i miss my walks. however, i do a similar type of prayer. while i drive around town running errands, waiting in queue to pick up my little boy from school, or the store. i pray. my prayers go all over town with me in my suv. i kind of like it. it keeps me company. thanks for sharing:)

    • thebeautifuldue on August 20, 2011 at 11:36 am

      Thanks for stopping by, Kay…I understand about the anger management, as there are days I run faster than others (smile)…

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