When I met my husband way back in 1977, he was a runner. I liked that about him. I didn't know anybody else who was so serious about running - or so good. He led the cross-country team that fall and in the spring he set the Davidson College outdoor 5000 meter record. It's a record that has yet to be broken!
He got me started running more seriously in college, though I would not say I was a runner in the sense that he was...and still is. I have run, seriously at times, but I am not a runner.
I'll never forget the first time we did the 10 mile loop at Davidson. As we came onto the main road of town after covering 9 1/2 miles of country roads, we met up with a professor friend of his who was out for a run. As the running prof came alongside us, the two of them picked up the pace. I thought I was going to die. I had just run longer than I'd ever run in my life and I was ready to slow down and crawl to the finish and here they were speeding up!! I think I kept up with them out of pride but my legs were killing me and I'm sure my heart was pounding. I was probably mad, too, but that may have spurred me to speed on to the finish.
Over the years I have stood beside the trail in the woods at cross country courses; planned out and then raced to the most strategic spots on a 26 mile marathon course to get there before the runners passed; bundled toddlers and babies up in heavy coats, hats, and mittens to cheer their Daddy on at Thanksgiving day races; driven to the top of a mountain to meet and then drive a weary Coty back down after he'd run the 12 miles up the mountain. I have cheered thrilling victories and witnessed the pain of my racing husband having to drop out because his body just wouldn't do what he was pushing it to do that day.
Many of our friends have heard the story of a time when, as the only white person in the stands at the Nairobi (Kenya) city track championship I watched my husband, the only white person in the race, drop out. The entire crowd moaned in unison as the announcer on the loud speaker shouted, "Oooooooooh, the mzungu* has dropped out!!!" And then they all turned and looked at me - or at least it felt like they did. I wanted to crawl in a hole and disappear.
Twice, I helped my Coty on crutches make his painful way to the car after knee surgery. How could he possibly run again after having shredded cartilage cut away? But each time, he did. Slowly at first, he worked his way back, learning how much his damaged knees could tolerate, how far and how fast he could go. He has never quit. He never will quit as long as his legs will carry him. He is a runner.
That is why when I heard that he was going to preach a sermon series entitled "Running the Race of Faith to Win the Crown of Righteousness", I got excited. That was why I couldn't wait to hear his exposition of biblical images of training and racing. I sat in the front row and I listened to my runner husband speak from his heart with delight and wisdom and experience about the race of faith. That was why I teared up during the sermon yesterday when he said, "I am a runner." I know he is a runner. I've lived with that runner for almost 29 years. And I know that he is a runner not just on the track and trails and roads, but a runner in the most important race of all, the race of faith.
If you want to be spurred on in your own race of faith, I hope you'll listen to these sermons over the next five weeks. Yesterday's sermon is already posted here. And I pray that you will be encouraged with me to "run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith..."
*mzungu means white man
Post #1 in this week's focus on running the race of faith