Friday, July 26, 2013

My 16 and Yours

Last night at a small group supper, someone asked me, "How far is your long run this week?"  "Sixteen," I grimaced.  "Sixteen MILES?" he responded.  The enormity hung in the air between us.  And when I sat down to eat at the dining table, every one of those long miles sat on the table in front of me like an extra large helping of dread, staring me down all through the evening.

Before I went to bed, I checked the weather.  Rain was forecast for the afternoon, but I should be able to run before the storms arrived.  Zero percent chance of precipitation greeted me at dawn with the patter of drops on the window sill.  The encourager that he is, my husband's first words to me this morning were, "If you can run in this, you can run in anything."  I knew I needed to just do it, but that dread of the night before just increased exponentially.  And I thought of a verse I read earlier this week, "Arise, and be doing!  The LORD be with you."  (1 Chronicles 22.16)

By the time I finished my morning reading and cup of coffee, the rain ceased.  I pulled on my running clothes, double-knotted my shoe laces, and grabbed my hat.  I knew in the freezer in a small plastic bag were a couple of teeny tiny Snickers I would need to fuel me on my run.  Where were they?  O LORD, if they are in here, please help me see them, I prayed.  Past the frozen fish, a half-container of Cool Whip, nothing.  I worked my way through the drawers.  Nothing.  And there at the very bottom, underneath some Freezer Pops, I saw a Snickers wrapper poking out.  Bingo.  Thank you, LORD, I whispered.  And then I laughed outloud.  Because when I pulled out the sandwich bag with the two Snickers in it, I unearthed an entire quart size bag of frozen Snickers leftover from last Halloween.  God's unexpected blessings strike again.  As I stuffed a couple of them in my pocket, I laid aside my bad attitude.  No room for that!

I headed out not knowing what to expect.  I chose an out-and-back route, because I know myself well.  If it started raining, I didn't want to be two blocks from home.  For sure then, I wouldn't finish this run.  When I am weak, let me chose a route far away from temptation.  A few miles into my run, I saw an old man with a walker talking to an old lady with a cane.  Me ten years from now?  Twenty years?  Maybe.  But today I run.

I am glad that I did not know it would be raining for 10 1/2 miles of my run.  And oddly enough, when the rain started, that which I dreaded so much, it was not a huge barrier or burden, not even an irritation or inconvenience, it came as a blessing.  That which I dreaded made me stronger.  It came as a refreshing cool breeze and water droplets to cool me off, almost the same delight as running through a sprinkler like a kid on a hot summer day. 

I finished my run, and I did not die.  And I sit right now at the computer and watch the DELUGE of rain outside my window.  I am so glad I went when I did.

I ran my dreaded sixteen in the rain.  And I thought about the "16-milers" that we all struggle with -- the big unknowns, hard choices to make, physical pain I know so many friends endure, difficult relationships, huge responsibilities, discouragements.  "I can't do this."  And God replies, "Oh, but I can.  And I will be with you."

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