Tuesday, October 13, 2015

He’s a RUNNER, but aren’t we all?

I didn’t even know it was in him until he ran his first race.  Granted he ran full speed the whole time (not realizing he was supposed to pace himself) and nearly passed out by the end.   He has only gotten better as time has gone by.  He has practiced, trained, and even came up with a strategy to be able to run stronger and he has.

My eldest son decided at the last minute (a few days before school started) that he wanted to try Cross Country out this year.  Hmmm… we never thought of him as a long distance runner.  It is a sport that he can carry with him all of his life if he likes it.  What could it hurt?  We agreed whole-heartedly to let him try it out and rallied behind him in support.

This was all new for us.  All we have ever done sports-wise as a family has been… soccer, football, baseball, and basketball… mostly basketball since the boys have gotten older.  We were totally clueless as to how to support our son at his first event.  I gained insights from a Cross Country friend when we first arrived so my husband and I wouldn’t stand out quite as much as newbies (Thanks Sherri!).  I’m not sure if it helped camouflage us or not.

These races or meets were like nothing we had ever been to before.  From the students stretching ahead of the run, to the lining up, and shooting of the gun, we were definitely out of our element.  Parents and students swarmed at each meet in no particular order.  

There were clumps of people everywhere.  If one thought they could just show up and go with the flow to see what to do, they would be out of luck.  Everyone did their own thing to support their kid and each thing was unique.


After a few meets we finally discovered our cheerleading groove.  We came early to each meet to: 1. Set up lawn chairs to sit in during the down time by the team tent and 2.  Spend some quality time encouraging our son before the race began.  We also had him share with us the race route so we knew where to stand when to cheer him on to the end.


Once the race began our job (per our son’s request) was to count which number he was from the front and yell it out as he passed by.  If we were privy to seeing a timer (which wasn’t at every meet) we were supposed to shout out his time.  We moved several times throughout the race to see him pass by us.  We whooped and hollered as he ran by expecting it would make him run all the faster.


Parents moved all around seemingly knowing just where to stand in order to see their child pass by.  We watched and followed their lead.  I think the MOST amazing part of the whole race was watching them run across the finish line.  

Watching those kids push through to the end running their hearts out amazed me.  From the fastest runner to the slowest, they CHOSE to do this sport and they finished strong.  Wow… that speaks volumes to me!


As the racers poured in, one by one, the cheering seemed to only increase.  People didn’t just cheer for their own child in this race, they cheered for every child that attempted to finish no matter what team they were on.  It was powerful! 


I was especially impressed by the attitudes of the students from other teams. After one of my son’s first race’s several guys from other teams kept coming up to my son telling him he did a great job.  I couldn’t figure out how he knew them so I asked him.  He said, “Mom, they are just encouraging me.  This sport is different than the others I have done before.”  Wow!  It’s a community of encouragers all around.


I didn’t know if my son would stick with this sport or not, but he has.  I’m so proud of him.  It’s hard work, but he’s good at it.  It seems to come natural for him.


He’s a runner!  I think he’s hooked for life!


Running is deep, down in him, but now that I think about it running is in all of us... isn’t it?  I’m not into the sport of running, but oh do I want to run when I face difficulties, struggles, and hardship.  I feel like running when conflict arises and relationships waver.  I am a runner.  I admit it.  I guess running isn’t all bad in life, as long as we are running in the right direction.


I have discovered through personal experience that I have two options when it comes to running.  When hard times come and they will, I can either run TO God, or AWAY from Him. 


When we choose to run to God “in the midst of” our struggles, we have the opportunity to experience His peace that passes all understanding.  The pain may still be there, the stress still overwhelming, and the burdens great, but we don’t have to do this alone.  God promises to walk with us. 


God will help carry our burdens.  He will diffuse our stress with His presence, and comfort us in our moments of grief and pain.  He is as close as the mention of His name.  I know our natural tendency is to run away from our problems, but why not choose a different way next time… take your problems and run TO God.  You might be surprised at the outcome.

The one thing people long for MOST when they are hurting is peace.  Why would we knowingly choose to run away from this?  In choosing to run away from God instead of to Him, we are in essence choosing to carry our burdens alone.  The weight is heavier, the pain more severe, and that sick uneasy feeling in our stomach is never ending.  But, why?   It just doesn’t make sense to me.


I guess I’ve had many opportunities to run AWAY from God now that I think about it.  I just didn’t take them.   Like many others, I too, have faced those moments where I could have chosen to get “angry at the world” or take it all out on God.  I could have given up on life, went wild and rebellious, or ran away from it all, but I didn’t.  I haven’t.   


I guess some where along my journey I decided to run to God in

a moment of despair and He met me there.  It changed me! 

I don’t know how to run anywhere else.



Some of those life-changing moments of decision are still stamped so vividly in my mind.  I remember struggling personally as a pre-teen and contemplating taking my own life.  In that moment of decision, I felt God’s presence enter my bedroom.  I was overwhelmed by His love and felt His arms wrapping around me tightly.  I was loved.  I was not alone.  I could do this… with His help.

I remember being excited about expecting our first child after five years of marriage.  Our hearts were all wrapped up in this unborn bundle of joy.  We were full of hopes and dreams for the future.  We were heart broken to find out just after four months that I had miscarried and lost the baby.  The grief was real and heavy upon our hearts. 

All I knew to do was to run to God.  I prayed for strength and peace “in the midst of” my struggle.  The peace was almost immediate.  I couldn’t imagine how any body else in my same situation (with out God) could make it through this.  The loss was almost unbearable.

I have faced a lot of ups and downs with my health.  I have suffered with an autoimmune disease for the past ten years now.  It’s an autoimmune disease that weakens my muscles… all muscles when it’s out of control.  It has gone in and out of remission.   When it’s bad, it’s really bad. 

When I first got sick, it took the doctor three months to diagnose it.  I was bedridden most of that time.  My kids were just 5 & 6 years old at the time.  Through out my sickness I’ve had various flare ups where old symptoms would come back again strong for awhile.  During one bad flare up I was bedridden for almost a year.  It was horrible. 

I have had every opportunity imaginable with all of this sickness to blame God, doubt Him, and walk away, but I didn’t.  I haven't.  Regardless of whether I will ever be healed from my calamity or not, I trust Him!  He has always proved to be faithful to me in the past, so I am confident that some how in some way God will work all this out for good.

I’m a runner!  I admit it.  But… the place I choose to run... in good times and bad is right into God’s arms.  There is no other place I would rather be.


“Come near to God, and God will come near to you… 

James 4:8


The next time you are hurting, broken, or struggling to find your way.  I challenge you to choose a different direction to run.  Run to Him!  You won’t be disappointed!  I promise!


Living to leave a legacy,