Thursday, July 31, 2008

Running Lesson #8

I’m Willing to Look Like a Fool to a Achieve My Goal!

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness…”
Matt. 5:10

I previously did not know that about myself but it’s true. Please understand: I don’t want to look like an idiot any more than anyone else does, but it seems that when I’ve set my heart on achieving a particular goal, any desire to preserve dignity is overcome by the determination to reach the objective. Boy have gotten some looks and heard some comments!

One afternoon, shortly after beginning a run through town, it started to rain. Within seconds it was an absolute downpour. Well, I couldn’t get any wetter so I just kept running. That day I ran 6 miles in a monsoon so strong that it affected my visibility more than anything else. It just so happened that our secretary drove by at some point and later admitted that she thought, “What idiot would be out here running in this!” before realizing who it was. (Then she was sure it was an idiot!)

I have run in other less-than-ideal conditions where the looks on the faces of passing motorists have told the entire story. When people see you running in extreme cold or blowing snow or high heat they just don’t get it. While running in rural Tanzania (where there is apparently no social stigma against staring) the locals staring at me seem to be thinking, “who is this white man and what is he running from!” But the looks didn’t matter but I had to keep my training on target to reaching my goal.

And it happened again this week. It wasn’t raining when I started the run, but before it was over it was hard to tell which was worse: the wind or the rain. Then to my surprise, a thoughtful young woman turned around, pulled up beside me, and said, “Is there somewhere I can take you?” I said, “No thank you, I’m just running.” She said, “Are you sure?” You’ve seen the look: a crinkled nose and eyes that say “you gotta be kidding!” I reassured her, thanked her for her consideration, and took off again.

The lesson is this: when your goal is consuming you don’t care what others think! Sometimes we make the wrong choices in life because we’re afraid of what others may think. The teenager participates in an ungodly activity because she doesn’t want anyone to laugh at her for saying “no”. The businessman undertakes questionable practices to fit in with the crowd. We do something we should not or do not do something that we should do because we are overly concerned with the opinion of others.

The reality is that if we are not of this world we will never really be fully accepted by the world. The prophets, apostles, and Jesus were so despised by the world that they were persecuted. Their response? They kept doing right because they had a goal that was out of this world! Wanting to fit in and be accepted is a universal desire, but if it is causing us to make wrong decisions then we need to reassess our goals in life and eternity. When Heaven is our goal what others think doesn’t matter so much!

Gotta run!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Running Lesson #7


“A friend loves at all times…” Prov. 17:17

Having now logged 3 runs with my new running partner it is officially confirmed: I really like him! I don’t want to knock my old running partner, but he had become frustrating and disappointing. On cold mornings he would quit long before I did (wimp!), on long runs it wasn’t uncommon for him to stop before we were finished, and he had become increasingly stubborn. And no, I’m not worried that he’ll read this and be offended.

You see, my old running partner (and my new one) is an MP3 player. Busy, conflicting schedules and differing paces make running with a friend an unusual treat, so it’s usually just me, my music, and my thoughts. It’s not a bad second option, in fact I like the solitude and I like the music. But the frustration with my formerly-trusty running partner has reminded me of the qualities of true friendship.

A good friend is dependable! Not knowing if my old running partner was going to “show up” or if it would finish, left me with unfriendly feelings. Those really cold mornings, when I needed it the most, were when it most often left on my own. But a good friend is always there for you.

A good friend is trustworthy! The old player would often show “full battery” at the beginning of the run and it really was but other times it would be dead within 30 minutes. No matter what he said I could never believe him! It’s the same with a friend – if you’re not sure you can trust them then there’s nothing there and no reason to continue the charade. It’s no wonder honesty is the foundation of any relationship.

A good friend is available! One particularly cold February morning I thought, “I’m really glad I have the music today – I really need it” and within three minutes the old partner decided it was too cold for him! What good is a player that doesn’t play and what’s the point of having a friend who isn’t there for you? Prov. 18:24

A good friend encourages you! Studies have proven the motivational benefits of music during exercise. But I don’t need a study to prove it – I experience it several times a week! And that’s what a good friend does. He motivates me when I need motivation. And he doesn’t just blow smoke, because sometimes I need to hear what I don’t want to hear.

Yes, I definitely like my new running partner. So far he is dependable, trustworthy, available, and is a constant encourager. Sounds like the kind of friend I want. Sounds like the kind of friend I want to be.

Gotta run!