Ready to Run
I can still see it: The grass, green and brown, thirsty for a drink in the Southern California dry heat; the chain links separating us from the cars passing on the side streets; the bright green t-shirts coupled with the bright white gym shorts...fashion at it’s finest. I attended a small private school from 4th grade through 8th grade. It was one class per grade with a maximum of 20 students in each grade level. It was small. So small that everyone knew everything about everyone. One thing my classmates knew about me was that I was not what you might call the athletic-type.
Every time we played soccer in P.E. on that dry, grassy-ish field I got hit in the face with the soccer ball. Every time. I was always the last or second to last picked for teams. (You don’t need to feel sorry for me. I would have picked myself last, too.) The problem was not that I didn’t want to play, the problem was that I couldn’t run.
Running hurt. My chest would tighten almost immediately and the side ache would surface within seconds. I had childhood asthma which didn’t help my running, however, it really helped in the excuse department.
“I can’t run. I have asthma.”
This was the line. The one I repeated from 6th grade, when the mile challenge was introduced through my Sophomore year of high school where I actually got an “M,” standing for “Medical,” in P.E. on my report card because the shower door came off the track and dropped on my toe. Best injury ever, in my opinion. Never had to run the mile again!
In college I filled P.E. like requirements with classes like Dance and Aerobics. I would do anything to avoid pacing myself one foot in front of the other, arms swinging by my side and the dread that came with the tightening chest.
Have you ever experienced God taking the one thing you said you would never do and using it to change you, transform you and deliver you?
Well, if you haven’t guessed by now...He is doing that with me.
I just began week 3 of training for a half-marathon.
This was not some off the cuff, let’s see if I can do it, I have nothing better to do with my time, decision. This was one of those “God things,” the ones that come at you from every angle until you realize that if you choose to do things His way, as hard as it may seem, the best is yet to come.
It all started when I received an email from someone about World Hospice Day, October 13, and this great marathon being run in Kenya with some of the fastest runners in the world participating. The email told me I could join in on the fun and run in the Long Beach Half-Marathon on the same day and raise money for the Kimbolio Hospice, an organization that has wrecked my heart in the best way, also known as Living Room Ministries.
I thought about how cool that would be for half of a second and then went on with my day.
“I don’t run but, how cool, for those who do.”
Then one night a couple months later some good friends came over. We ate pizza, talked Church, talked babies, then talked running. She is a runner. She has done half-marathons. She has done a full marathon. (She also blogs and she is wonderful. You should read her here...but come back and hear the rest of my story:)) I told her that the thought crossed my mind to join in on the running fun. She encouraged me to do it, but again,
“I’m not a runner. But, how cool for her to do that.”
A week later I heard a sermon on the Nazarite Vow. The pastor explained how people would enter into one of these vows for any period of time because they were desperate for God to move.
I happen to be in a season where I am desperate for God to make a clear path for some things...some really big things. I have also been on a journey this last year battling some uglies in my life -- fear, self-seeking, pride...to name a few.
The pastor explained that people would enter into this vow and there would be three components to it:
Sacrifice - they would give up wine...a big one for the time period and culture
Change in Appearance - they wouldn’t shave or cut their hair
Offering - When it came time to bring an offering to the Lord at the end of their appointed length of the vow, the offering they were asked to bring was much larger than the average person could have provided on their own. It would take a community to come together to support this person.
The pastor paralleled Jesus, His life and what He did. Then he challenged those listening. Is God asking you to do something similar? To enter into a season that might look like this?
As I listened the words penetrated deeply. And, all I could think about was running...one of the things I feared most, hated most, prided myself most on not doing. Was God really asking me to run?
I waited to tell the Fly. Of all people he knows of my lack in the athletic department. There are a number of humorous stories I could share to back up my point. Let’s just say he has no athletic expectations of me, whatsoever.
I prayed and prayed to make sure I wasn’t making all of this up. And, the more I prayed the more confident I became, knowing that God often asks us to do the things we are most afraid of to bring about the most important transformations.
So I told the Fly. He bought me some running shoes. I sent at text to my friend. She was in and ready to get to work...and boy, did she have her work cut out for her.
On July 6th we went out for our first run. It was hard and good and my sweet friend cheered me on and taught me how to breathe. We walked and ran and walked and ran and for the first time ever I felt like I might, just might, be able to be someone who runs.
Later that day I was prompted to look up the date that I was in Long Beach last year. I had attended a Beth Moore conference. It was a weekend all by myself, well, myself and the 7,000 other women that also attended. She spoke on the passage of Namaan in 2Kings. He was a captain of the Syrian Army. The Bible says he was a man of valor, but he was a leper. Namaan goes to Elisha, a prophet of God, to be healed. If you read the story in 2Kings chapter 5 you see that Namaan had to humble himself, realize that his healing wasn’t going to happen the way he wanted or expected, and in the end, if he really wanted it, he would have to go down to the Jordan river and dip seven times.
Beth asked us to write our own sentence based on the second part of the first verse in chapter 5,
“He was a man of valor, but he was a leper.”
She pointed out that we all carry affliction at some point in our life and it looks quite different for everyone.
This was my sentence,
“Allison is a woman of valor, but she is afraid.”
Afraid of what? Of what people think. Of not being in control. Of the unknown. Of earthquakes. Of death of loved ones. Of not being liked. Of not being good enough. Of not living up to my own standards and those of others.
I was afraid of really trusting God to work in and out all of the above.
This year, exactly one year later, I believe God is working out my affliction in the form of something I have been most afraid of.
Last year on October 13th I entered into a season of seeking the healing of this affliction of fear and this year, on October 13th, I believe God is going to deliver me.
I have vowed to run. I am running for my life and the life of those in the Living Room. I am sacrificing my time and my status as a “non-runner.” I am changing my appearance with workout clothing and running shoes. And, lastly I am asking a community to stand behind me and support me and my offering by sponsoring my run.
I need you. Your prayers are priceless and if you feel led to support me financially please accept my humble thanks.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2