Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sabbath's and Off Weeks

Sabbath- Old English, from Latin sabbatum, via Greek from from Hebrew Sabbat, from Sabat, 'to rest'


One of my favourite weeks has finally come! This semester has been one of the busiest I have had in a while. But now that cross-country season has ended, one of the most beautiful weeks has approached… The off week- a week where I can take a mental break from the stresses of training and focus on other interests.

What I have found about this week with all my spare time is how much I enjoy the simple. Rarely do I get the chance to just sit and be. We are always seeing the world hurrying to and from things, but for me, the world seems motionless for a week. 

My life has been a constant race… so often do I run, but forget to feel each step, so often do I breathe, but fail to truly fill myself. I stop, but don't look around; I pause, but rarely reflect. 

So this week I intend to do all of that. But even past the resting, I pray my life would never be in a place that reflection, pause, or rest would cease.

What does the Sabbath mean to you? Perhaps it's a old Bible tale, maybe its a Sunday on the couch watching the Cowboys game.  To me it can sometimes mean different things. Being a natural introvert I enjoy getting some alone time to reflect, sometimes in my room listening to ambient music with a Bible and journal in hand, other times I am out on a run, spending time in nature thinking about life, or praying. All this is a way of surrounding myself and tasting the beauty of creation, hearing beautiful sounds that reflect Christ. I mentioned earlier how ambient piano has this particular effect on me. It tugs on my soul heartstrings because of its simplicity, yet allows me to think, to dream, and imagine. I'd like to think that God gave the Israelites the Sabbath to do these things as well. 

But whats great about the Sabbath is that no matter what restful activities we partake in, we get to experience the beauty of God through all of it. In Genesis, even the Lord who created the earth rested. (Genesis 2:3)

Wherever you are, I urge you to keep the Sabbath, or give yourself a chance to rest, reflect, dream, imagine, or experience God in a beautiful way. 

In Chariots of Fire, Eric Liddell is asked to run his 100 meter Olympic Trials heat on his Sabbath day, Sunday. It was his dream to run in the Olympic Games, but he had to turn it down because he knew that being faithful to the Lord and keeping the Sabbath was more important than winning a race. Here is what'd cool about the story: The Lord honored him and Eric was given a chance to run in other race, which he ended up winning! 

We may never win a race because of our Sabbath convictions, but how great is it when we can experience God's beauty through our time of rest. During this week I have off, I am going to continue to rest in that beauty that the Lord continues to show me. I am excited to see where the Lord is going to take me as I continue following Him. Join me in this journey! What are your thoughts on the Sabbath?

Here is the video of Eric's conviction to honour the Sabbath!


Friday, October 3, 2014

My Feet May Fail

"You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown, where feet may fail. And there I find you in the mystery, in oceans deep, my faith will stand"

If you follow running news, a Kenyan named Daniel Kimetto made history by by setting the Marathon world record (2:02:57), which is blistering. To put Daniel's race into perspective, he ran my 5k PR more than 8 times consecutively. That’s crazy! 

But what really struck me about Daniel Kimetto ‘s feat was that just a few months before that, he walked the last few kilometers of the Boston Marathon. Here is a picture of Kimetto walking off the road of that race. 
Photo Credit to @BoyFromiten
I think of the steps Daniel took to get to the world record. He must have been really down after Boston, felt like the world was a heavy weight; perhaps he struggled to find meaning in his life. There must have been a turn-around point in these few months where he made the decision to become a champion, to work even harder than before.

People love these comeback stories; they are fun to watch unfold. As a young kid, I used to imagine myself as a pitcher for the Texas Rangers in the 9th inning of the World Series with the bases loaded and two outs, making the final strike… hearing the crowd roar! These dreams still continue for me, however now they are around the track. I hear the bell going off in the 10,000-metre final of the Olympic Games, the crowd cheering as I round the final stretch of a race. Comebacks are beautiful. Now Kimetto may have not exactly been the underdog, but there was an incredible change and turnaround in the last 3 months of his training and life. 

Success stories in sports are great. But even better than sport rebirths are when people have comebacks in their lives. God wants to give you a comeback story, you just have to trust Him.  I could write for hours about incredible stories of life change. Recently, a close friend of mine, went through several rough patches in his life, and ended up living with our family for a year. God took what seemed like a story that was lost, a game that was over, and changed the score. He is now back at school, sharing his story and encouraging those around him. I look at my sister Molly's battle with depression, and I'm so encouraged by the way she bounced back through Christ and is now sharing Christ with others in her community. There are countless of other stories of life change, God is doing incredible works, and He wants to work in your life if you allow Him to. 

Last week I was sitting in the back of a service at Harris Creek, the church I call home in Waco, and they started singing the song "Oceans" by Hillsong. This is a song I know well, so the words came easy to me except during one particular line. I kept stumbling over the phrase, "My feet may fail." 

After the service all I could think about was that line, "My feet may fail." So many times in my life my feet have failed me, especially in running. The last month of training has been rough for me, there were days that I would wake up without any motivation to run, no desire to excel in life, my legs felt dead and I was down. I kept failing, in school, in running, in relationships, but God stayed the course with me. I questioned where God was in all of this failure and doubt in my life. Its' funny how answers come, but mine happened to be a verse that Molly texted me a couple of weeks ago that hit me hard:

"I remember it all- oh, how well I remember- The feeling of hitting the bottom. But there's one thing I remember and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love couldn't have dried up. They're created new every morning. How great your faithfulness. I'm sticking with God, He's all I've got left. God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It's a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. Its a good thing when your young, to stick it out through the hard time. When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence, bow in prayer. Don't ask questions. Wait for hope to appear. Don't run from trouble, take it full- face. The "worst" is never the worse. Why? Because the Master won't ever walk out and fail to return. If he works severely, he also works tenderly." -Lamentations 3:20-33 MSG


 What a great promise… that God never walks out on us or leaves us. I'm thankful that even though "my feet may fail" so often, I trust in a God that doesn't fail! I trust in a God who desires to take me to much greater places than I could ever dream of, like the last lyrics of Oceans! I am praying that while we may fail, we would continue to trust in God who doesn't!
"Spirit Lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior." 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

On Records, Dreams, and Running

Northern Idaho Sunsets are BEAUTIFUL!
From the air it all began, my exploration as a sky sailor. I am entering into the last 3 weeks of a fun journey away from home, The Shire, or Hobbiton if you will. This adventure has taken me to London, Paris, and Boise Idaho, a summer, filled with mountains to explore, rivers to jump in, and a few sales sprinkled in on the way to the end of summer.

I am praying for vigilance, excellence, and overall stamina in both running and work. I like to consider myself a well oiled machine, graceful like a deer, going through life on foot, fit and fast. Sometimes what I dream so often misrepresents what my body tells me. In reality sometimes I have been sluggish like an Ox, tired like a sloth. It is a give and take, an ebb and flow of listening to my body and responding likewise. I can't be Mo Farah and crush 100 mile weeks every week. But I will be patient, like Noah building my "ark" of base mileage, aligning my bodies desires and the desires Cap and even God himself has for me. 

The light is dim, the path crooked, but I am touching a path not many men seek. It is lonely, but there is peace and stillness in the silent. A time to reflect, to dream, to pray, to work. I seek something few men in history dare, to push my body and soul to the upper echelon of the spirit, until there is nothing left. Whether this is done on a cross-country course or 25 calculated, hard, and eventful laps… all this done in a manner of glorifying god, my target, along with the tangible ticking goal of twenty nine minutes and twenty six seconds for these grueling laps. But what does that even mean? Sure... I would be a moonwalker in Baylor distance history, but beyond that? It would mean tasting victory in God's plan, rejoicing in the accomplishments in light of something much greater. But victory isn't necessarily what I have in mind. My hero, Ryan Hall put it this way 

"I'd rather lose with God, then win without him" -Ryan Hall

Ryan is right. God has be be a part of the picture for victory to happen for me. Physical victory might not even be a part of the plan, but I can win with God if I run for Him. This record is a minute figure in Gods grand plan. So yes, I am literally chasing it with every ounce of fiber in my being and soul, but it does not lie in deep importance to me compared to that of making Jesus' name more known. If I can do that, FORGET the blasted record and I will celebrate in the fact that I can run, that perhaps The Lord will allow me to use running to bring someone to Christ, or use running for good conversations, for ministry, for doing life with the 15 brothers I call teammates. That's where I find the motivation to push when I have nothing left in the tank. That's why when I lose physically, I still win because I win with Christ, who isn't concerned with the outcome. So instead of praying for God to bless me with winged feet, I pray to do something much bigger than that: to make Christ's name more known. If running becomes anything more than that, than take it away. Strip me of this idol and lay it to waste. Cleanse me if running does not honor The Lord. But if this journey does glorify Christ, then help me take each step for You, graceful like the deer you created, let me run with beauty, never forgetting my mission and task. I want to do this for the glory of Christ so that one day I may look back and say, "that was BEAUTIFUL, thanks God. You were glorified every step of the way!"

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Rollercoasters

Rollercoasters.

What are they? The fastest two minutes of fear, screaming, and laughing that you can bargain for. Rollercoasters carry you through the ups and downs, the parts that you want to ride again and again, and sometimes, the parts you would rather never experience again.

Isn't life life like a roller-coaster?

This semester, people have asked me how running and life has been, and I have simply replied, a roller coaster. I have experienced lots of joy racing for the first time in 8 months, meeting some great new friends, being with family. But there also have been plenty of unforeseen stomach dropping moments on this ride, friends passing away, bad races, and tough times.

I never quite know what else life has in store for the next bend, but I'm often left left holding tightly onto what I have and hoping it will soon pass.

But this is what I've learned- forget the ride, follow Jesus.

Following Jesus to me is not being invested in the turnout of these mountains and valley experiences, but rather putting my identity and dependence in Christ.

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." -Hebrews 13:8

I think it's pretty cool that I trust in an unchanging God, while my world or circumstances around me change constantly at every moment in time. That is powerful. The very idea that we are subject to time while God isn't, forces us into continual change, second by second. We cannot hope in something that is temporal or dependent on ourselves.

My emotions and feelings are constantly riding a roller-coaster, but I'm learning how to not let the roller-coaster of life define me. When I have a bad race or even a good race, I'm not defined by that. I am defined by something much greater, a relationship with Christ! If Christ is what defines me, then I don't have to worry about my performance or the highs and lows of life.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold, the new has come." -2nd Corinthians 5:17

As I go on the rest of the semester, my prayer is that we can put our hope, trust, and faith into a relationship with Christ that doesn't change or waver. I pray that this roller coaster of life would not define us, and that we would recognize how we are loved and made new in Christ!