Sunday, October 17, 2010

Are you a "Marathoner"? (The answer may surprise you!)

On 10/9/10 I ran the Hartford Marathon. I was going to write that I ran my "first" marathon, but truth be told, I'm not sure whether I'll run another one or not. Don't get me wrong, it was a great day and I finished on target with my training at 4:00:59. Its just that the training takes up a significant amount of your time leading up to raceday and right now I can't forsee whether that is something that I will choose to make a priority again in the forseeable future. I'll keep running and racing, but for now I'll be setting my sights on shorter distances.

So when someone asked me later in the week if I was a "marathoner" I answered that while I had run the race, I didn't think the title really was right for me. So why did I do it? To start with, while cheering on other marathon racers over the last year or two, I had thought to my self "I'll bet I can do that" and the idea was born. However, as the idea turned into the reality of the training, the desire to continue took on new meaning to me.

Over the last couple of years, our extended family has endured some difficult circumstances and it has become clear to us that life can be pretty tough. To carry on with your head held high requires a certain type of perserverence. Reflecting on that truth, training for this 26.2 mile race became a metaphor for enduring the hardships of life. If I could get through this, I thought, I can get through other difficult times as well.

Well, raceday came and I carried on quite well for about 21 miles but I could feel the energy slowly draining out of me. I believed I was keeping well hydrated and even brought some extra nutrition with me in the form of gel packs designed for endurance exercise, which I took every hour. But something just wasn't quite right and at mile 23 I slowed to a walk through the water station to be sure and get some extra liquid on board and regain my strength. However, miles 24 and 25 brought a similar need to walk through the hydration station. I conjoured up the last of my energy though and was able to trudge on through the last 1.2 miles to complete the race. I had done it! I completed a marathon.

When I was able to reflect on the race I think I could have done a better job of managing my nutrition intake in order to stay strong through the whole race. Maybe someday I'll make a go of it again and use that knowledge to do better. The more I think about it though, my experience really held true to the metaphor that had driven me to complete the race in the first place. Life is hard. Sometimes we run, sometimes we walk and maybe even stumble. But the most important part is to perservere and complete our own personal race to the best of our ability.

Romans 12:1b-2 says "Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." What better example can we have than that? Run with patience, perservere...finish the race.

You know what? Maybe I am a marathoner after all. How about you?


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Exit Strategy

Do you have an "Exit Strategy"?

I saw this sign in the mall next to the escalators that I had thought were going to lead me to my exit. Clearly I was not getting out of the store this way. I was disappointed because that had been my plan. It wasn't a very well-thought-out plan. I should have noticed when I came in that both of these escalators were running the same way, but I was too fixed on getting in and accomplishing the things I had planned during my visit here.

It really struck me that life is the same way. We're so busy with all of the things we are doing that we ignore the fact that one day, we're going to have to leave this place. Do we have the same vague notion of which way we are going to exit when the time comes? What a horrible realization it would be to see this sign as we saunter towards the "up escalator" to heaven. "Use other exit"!?!?!?

Thankfully, there is a way already mapped out for us, just set your GPS and follow: "Thomas said, Lord, we don't even know where you are going! How can we know the way? I am the way, the truth, and the life! Jesus answered. Without me, no one can go to the Father." (John 14: 5-6). No other requirements or qualifications needed; just follow the way.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Welcome To The Real World

In the movie "The Matrix" Morpheus wakes Neo up from living in the deception of a computer-generated world and says to him "Welcome to the real world." This movie is not far from the truth of what we experience on a daily basis. Consider this dialogue when Morpheus explains the concept to Neo.

"Morpheus: Let me tell you why you're here. You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I'm talking about?

Neo: The Matrix.

Morpheus: Do you want to know what it is?

Neo: Yes.

Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work... when you go to church... when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.

Neo: What truth?

Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind."

We were created by God for perfection but because sin entered the world, our relationship with God was broken and now there is a battle waging to determine our destiny. We need to remember that we are children of God and avoid being deceived by the lies that surround us and distract us from the one real truth.

Phillipians 3:20

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ

1Peter 5:8-9

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

Ephesians 6:11-13:

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

It's time to claim the victory that has already been won for us.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Re-Imagine

Imagine there is a heaven, and a hell below. Imagine there is a God who created this world, a perfect world - and he created each of us and gave us this world to enjoy. But we decided we didn't need him and we knew better. But our way wasn't better. It led to emptiness and despair and we messed up this perfect world and along with it, our lives went astray.

But in his infinite love for us, God looked at his only son, who he loved dearly, and he told him to leave the perfection and glory of heaven and come into this crooked and depraved world - knowing full well he would be mistreated, mocked and murdered. God knew that despite the horrible way he would be treated, Jesus would lead a perfect, sinless life and by doing that , he could stand in place for us and accept the penalty for all we had done wrong.

Now, all we need to do is accept that gift and God will forgive us and allow us to enjoy the glory of eternal life in heaven. But if we still think we know better, God cannot know us and we will be forever separated from him and unable to save ourselves from a judgement that is coming that will result in suffering and pain beyond that which we can imagine.

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I believe in the Son. I hope today you will join me and forever we'll live in the kingdom that is to come.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Give Up Hope

When I was a teenager, if you asked me whether or not I would go to heaven one day, I would have told you that I was trying to be a good person and I sure hoped that if I died, I would go to heaven. Surely that seemed fair enough. I hadn't robbed any banks and I helped an old lady with her groceries once in the supermarket parking lot, so I figured I was +1 in the good/bad God tally sheet. But when someone asked me how I could be sure that was enough... it started to bother me to think about that eventual day when I showed up at the gates, not knowing whether I would get the thumbs up or the escalator down. I decided to do a little more research.

Thankfully, I found a clear answer. "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.(Romans 10:9) " For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. " (John 3:16) That's it. Now that is a hope I can count on. How about you? Will you just continue on and "hope" everything works out ok, or will you put your faith in the promises of God?