Today I wanted to share with you a devotion from Steve Chapman from his devotional book “A Look at Life From a Deer Stand.” “I climbed onto my ladder stand before daylight and settled in for a morning hunt. There was a sizable pond to my right, and the noises that came from it softly filled the area. One particular sound caught my ear and brought a smile to my face because it reminded me of one of my favorite stories…
A little boy said to his grandpa, “Granddad, make a sound like a frog.”
His grandfather was sort of a rough old fellow and bluntly denied his grandson’s request.
However, the boy was not about to be refused.
“Please, Granddad, make a sound like a frog!”
“No!” came the old man’s grouchy reply.
“Oh, please, Granddaddy, make a sound like a frog.”
Exasperated with the little guy’s persistence, the Granddad asked, “Why?”
“Cause Grandma says, ‘When Grandpa croaks, we can all go to Six Flags!”
It sounds like the grandpa had built a less-than favorable reputation for himself. His legacy had apparently been established, and the assumption was that he would never change. This story makes me want to work on my memory. By that I don’t mean my brain’s ability to recall; rather, on how I will be remembered in the minds of others. May it never be that my wife, my children grandchildren, or friends would ever grimace at the mention of my name.
According to Proverbs 10:7, the key to creating a memory that brings smiles to the faces of those around us is to allow righteousness to reign in our hearts. On the other hand if we want our names to leave the taste of rottenness in the mouths of those who say them in the future, then all we have to do is embrace wickedness. Things that rot are eventually forgotten completely; they disappear into oblivion. However, Psalm 112:6 honors those who choose God’s way with a losing legacy: “For he will never be shaken; the righteous will be remembered forever.”
A good goal for life would be that should the day arrive when we become grandparents, we will never hear any of our grandchildren say, “Granddad, make a sound like a frog.”
In 2011 I was talking with a friend who had registered for the Illinois Marathon half-marathon race. As we talked I thought, “I should do this.” Keep in mind that this conversation was in January, the half was to take place in April, a half is 13.1 miles, and I hadn’t run since I left ISU in 2004. Naturally I did the only reasonable thing there is to do, I went home got online and registered for the race, I also talked another friend into joining me in my insanity.
Even since this entry into the running world, I have learned several things about which I could spend a great deal of time writing or talking about. I have inevitably learned a lot about running, but I also have learned, through observation and conversation, much about spiritual life. I learned that while on a 6+ mile run with people it provides a lot of time (especially when you are as slow as me) to talk. There have been times when the run was pretty much a full on Bible study, other times it was a discussion of the value on our marriages and how we can continue to honor those marriages and set an example for others.
However, these are not the things I want to address presently, rather I want to talk about one of my favorite aspects of running. I absolutely love the running community. Through running I have seen community that transcends race, religion (several of the runs, I mentioned, where we talked faith and Scripture it was a protestant, a Catholic, a Mormon, and an atheist), gender, lifestyle, politics, etc. These things fade to the back as we all gather around a common interest, running.
Ever since I began my journey running I have started, stopped, and restarted several times over. It is frustrating to begin from square one again, but that’s been my pattern. A couple years ago I was a few months into running again, I was scheduled for 6 miles that day, but by mile .5 I wasn’t feeling it and began to mentally talk myself into simply running 2 miles and being done for the day. As the group began pulling away, because I just couldn’t keep pace with them, one guy stayed with me and I decided I would go until he took off then I’d turn around. That day I ended up getting in my full 6 miles, because he stayed with me the whole time. The crazy thing about it is that his pace then was easily 4 minutes a mile less than mine, yet he ran slow in order to encourage me and keep me going. I recognized a while later that I probably would have quit after that day had he not stayed with me.
Additionally, “races” are incredible venues for community. The last run I did was a 6.5 mile trail run, it was also an out and back, which meant not only were people running in the same direction but we were also meeting people coming at us. The entire 6.5 miles was filled with encouragement, warning of obstacles, and motivation from others. As I listened to people speaking words of encouragement and motivation between breaths I couldn’t help but think about the example that it sets for the Church.
This is why the author of Hebrews writes, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (10:24-25 ESV).
The very thing I have experienced within the running community is what we should be practicing and experiencing in the faith community. We need to begin to look for those people who are struggling, thinking about quitting and run with them. We need to be warning each other of temptations that may be headed at us. We need to tell each other “Good Job.” “Keep it up.” “Press on.” “You’re almost there.” “It’ll totally be worth it when you cross the finish line.”
Who do you need to encourage? Who has God placed in your life that you can come alongside and help them press on?
It is time for the Church to begin setting the example for the rest of the world.
Blog posts from the Sterling staff, and maybe even the occasional guest blogger.