My daughter Laurel told me how wearing exercise clothes can make you want to exercise, so I bought the uniform of the runner—leggings—and it sort of works. Once I put them on, I feel like I’ve made a commitment to run.
This morning I really didn’t want to run—and when I say “run”, I mean “walk-run,” with more walking than running at this point in my 5K run app.
So, I didn’t want to run, but I had on the leggings and my father was still sleeping and Mary was downstairs in case he got up anyway and I had no other excuses. I headed out the door and down the hill.
About 5 minutes in, I heard a *ka-pling* from my phone, so I checked to see if I was supposed to start running, but it was a message from a friend. I barely had time to see her name when I heard the *ding* signaling time to run. I shoved my phone back in my pocket, and began running and praying for her.
Lord, I don’t know what’s going on with my friend.
Meanwhile, in the background of my run, Andrew Peterson was singing through my earbuds, “Keep to the old roads, keep to the old roads, and you’ll find your way…”
I focused on a distant tree, telling myself I could run that far. It’s a thing I do because I really hate running–set a short-term goal.
*ding* — I could walk again. I pulled out my phone and read her note. “We are very lost and hurt…”
“Keep to the old roads,” sang Andrew. He was on the last chorus.
Lord, help her to remember the old roads. Help her find her way.
I know that lost feeling, when it seems like everything is wrong and wasted. I thought of another friend who recently lost her home in a fire, and the heavy ache she must feel sifting through the ashes. I’ve gotten those heart-wrenching phone calls and driven to far away emergency rooms. I sat with my mother through her last breaths.
*ding* — Time to run again. I picked a barn to run to. Andrew was singing “Dancing in the Minefields.”
“This is harder than we dreamed…” Indeed, it is. Marriage, parenting, life. It all is so hard, and no one warns us about that.
Or they do, and we don’t believe it because we have stars in our eyes and hope in our hearts. But the stars are replaced with the pollution of life, stinging our eyes. And the hope in our hearts withers like an unwatered plant.
Lord, walk with her in these shadowlands.
And so my walk-run went.
Andrew sang, “So when my body’s weak and the day is long, When I feel my faith is all but gone, I’ll remember when I sing this song, that I believe….”
And I prayed.
Andrew sang, “Isn’t it love?”
And I prayed.
The last bit of my run-walk is miserable, absolutely miserable. I start off going downhill which means I finish going up.
I thought about a comment Jonathan Rogers had made recently, when someone praised him for being an encouragement. He said something like, “I’m like the cross-country coach who pulls alongside in the golf cart, takes a drag of his cigarette, and tells you to keep going.”
I thought about a new friend who wished me Bon Courage and explained that it’s not about bravery, but strength and resolve.
I thought about my friend who is lost and struggling, and how we’ve all been the guy in the golf-cart before, smoking our cigarettes and encouraging from a place of comfort, while we really don’t understand the pounding on the pavement pain of the runner in that moment. It seems we all need strength and resolve, to be able to set our sights on reachable goals.
We also need to remember the ultimate goal, given to us in the book of Hebrews, of running with endurance the race that is set before us. We have a cloud of witnesses—not riding golf-carts. We need to focus on Christ for our strength and resolve, our bon courage.
And so I prayed for my friend as I finished that final hill.