Saturday, August 10, 2013

Beyond Grace Street

I am not a runner.
It is not who I am.
It is just something I do.

I have certain routes I run, depending on snow, rain, and how far I need or want to go, these pathways sometimes taking me on a rambling run, and admittedly, sometimes a dreaded trudge.   As the long runs of marathon training become longer and longer, it can definitely feel like a weekend chore.  But after about two months, around the midpoint of the training schedule, my mindset changes when my long runs take me past Grace Street.

I chuckle when I run this particular route.  For a long time, I avoided it, fearing the isolation of the path and the great unknown -- where will it take me?  The section of the trail initially appeared to me as a stark canyon, bordered by monstrous freight trains and a mass of lonely trees.  For a few months, I dared not run it, not knowing what kind of wilderness appeared  on the other side.

One spring Saturday, the trail seemed populated enough to give it a try.  I ran through the canyon, emerged into a deep green sanctuary of ancient oaks, and then sprinted across a breezy bridge over the Interstate.  I laughed on the other side of the bridge.  For there, attached to a wooden pole, was a sign welcoming me to "the city of lilacs," a friendly little town with the sweet aroma of lilacs embracing me on the other side of my fear.

The path, which I have come to know well, then extends for mile after mile through sleepy villages, past schools, bordering backyards, and cutting through parks.  One of my turnaround points became the path's intersection with Grace Street.  And then, as the training miles build on each other, I have to go past Grace to a place where my strength is no longer mine.

It is up to that point in marathon training that the question "What were you thinking?" replays in a continual loop through my thoughts.  But when my routine consistently takes me beyond Grace, I begin thinking differently.  It is no longer a trudging, but a training. My"suffering" becomes a strengthening.  The dusty distances are the same, my legs still ache afterwards, but my mindset changes.   I am not just getting out there and slugging out an arbitrary schedule of  miles, but seeing them as equipping me for what is ahead.  I begin thinking more like a runner.

But what REALLY matters to me is thinking more like a believer in Christ, understanding and acting out what grace really means, the reality that has transformed me, that which Christ is doing in my life, taking me beyond, and letting God equip me for what is ahead, even that which I cannot possibly comprehend.

When the mind and heart of Christ reverberate from the core of my being, it is not just a change in mindset.  It does not just make life look different. Everything is changed.   My life becomes something entirely new.

I am a Christ-follower.
It is not what I do.
It is who I am.

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