Life, Faith & Running
". . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
You’re driving along in your automobile. Let’s say to church. You are the driving-parent and you hear an argument forming in the backseat. So, you decide to remind your lovely children in the back seat to, “Please, quit arguing already! For goodness sakes, we are on our way to church. Can’t you just get along.”
And loud and clear from the voice of one of those angels comes, “But...He started it!”
If you are like me, this only sets your blood shooting to the lower-part of your brain, hindering any reasonable or logical thought patterns. Which in turns hinders your ability to use good judgement or reason in your response.
So you might, hypothetically speaking say, “I DO NOT care who started it! Just stop it! Now. Before I pull the car over and give you a good reason to stop!”
How many times in your life, parents, have you attempted to stop an argument with your children, only to hear one of them, in his or her most whiney but defensive voice say, “He started it”? The child fully expecting that this phrase will free him or her from any obligations of taking ownership for the argument that is ensuing. Not keen enough yet to realize this phrase will likely make matters worse.
Or perhaps this phrase brings you back to your own childhood years and you can hear yourself or one of your siblings voices yelling (in an attempt to get yourself out of trouble), “He started it!”
This week I turned 36. Not so much old. Not so much young. Plenty of grey hairs to represent that my earthly crown of silver glory is on it’s way in. In this present age I find my body, soul and mind in, I seem to spend more time than I used to looking back. Is this the gift of aging, to be able to look back with delight, wonder, and thankfulness on the memories of what God has done to bring me to where I am today?
Not that all the days have been marked with happiness or joy, but those dark and hard days seem to have taken on meaning when being viewed in the rearview mirror. And it is that new-found meaning and purpose that glazes over memories with the veneer that is needed to look forward with hope, peace and trust.
It just so happens that I have a big brother who enters a new year of living seven days after my birthday. We are what they call Irish Twins: a pair of siblings born less than 12 months apart. Yep, we are the same “age” for one week every single year. So, often times my birthday arriving is signal for me to begin looking for a gift for my brother. This year was no different.
As God would have it, in the moments when I was trying to create a list of good gifts to buy my brother, I began considering what he had given me throughout my life. In the midst of other lovely thoughts, I stumbled upon the reality that he gave me one of the gifts I treasure most in my life: running.
He started it!
We grew up in a little town with a little school and athletes with big dreams. Our hometown doesn’t take up much in terms of square miles or population, but some amazing life happens there. All of my years of school my brother was just one year ahead of me in school. The smallness of this place meant that “high school” was grades 7-12 and in sports like track athletes from all those grades practiced together. And since my big brother was on the track team, of course I was going to be on it too. And if my brother was going to be a star distance runner, well then, I might as well try be one too.
So, my life as a runner began, in the tracks of my older brother. I don’t know that it was intentional or plotted following, it was just natural to follow him. He worked hard. He was successful. It made sense. It fit me.
The days of track practices together, running around a cinder track in a little Minnesotan town, are long gone! Our lives have taken us down different roads: one of us a city mouse. The other the country mouse. There have been many more experiences and friendships that have kept me running and competing, but there will never be another person of whom I can say the reason I began running was because of you. But of my brother I can say, “He started it!”
I’ve logged a lot of miles since those small town days, but my brother is the only one I can truly blame with a well placed, “He started it!”.
Occasionally, I am asked why I run or why I keep running. I often choose to answer with sentiments such as, it keeps my soul healthy, it keeps me from going crazy, it keeps me healthy and it is how I maintain some of my most treasured friendships. Plus, I believe God built me for competing with myself. I love the satisfaction of completing a hard workout or long race. I find Him there out there on the road. I run to Him out there. He works on my soul as I sweat out my prayers.
But none of those reasons would exist if my brother hadn’t started running and given me someone to follow. So, perhaps from now on when someone asks why I run, I should simply say, “He started it!”
Who is a person in your life of whom you could say, because of him or her I am doing something I love today? The person to which the credit goes for getting you started on a journey that became one of the greatest gifts of your life.
Find the time to honor that person this week. Turn that “He started it!” phrase upside down and use it to show someone just how important they are to you and the impact he or she has had on the gifts you use from day to day or time to time.
Her family and friends know her as, Jaci. She is the wife of a pastor, a mom of four, writing and communications education instructor, a visionary and an avid runner. As a firm believer in the power and effectiveness of the body of Christ united together to live out the Great Commission, she holds fast to this verse, "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). Of equal importance to her are these words, "...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).
Posts in the Run for Your Life, series: