Faith, Running, and 2020
Updated: Jan 27, 2021
In the fall of 2000, my wife and I were living in the beautiful city of Boulder, where I was enrolled in a doctoral degree at the University of Colorado. If you’ve ever been to Boulder, you know it’s an “outdoor” city. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, enjoys being outdoors. At any given moment of any given day, you’ll find countless runners, bikers, and hikers all over town. It’s truly remarkable.
Well, it wasn’t too long before I became captivated by the Boulder lifestyle, and decided that I’d join the fun and become a runner. It’s a gross understatement to say I fell in love with running. It’s more accurate to say I became madly, obsessively, and irrevocably addicted to it. And, as a natural by-product of my newfound passion, my physical health began to radically improve. In fact, I distinctly remember telling my wife that, “Before I started running, I thought I felt good. Now, I know what feeling good really means!”
That statement was true. Before I started running, I felt fine, but I just didn’t realize how good I could feel until I started adding some exercise to my daily routine.
What does all of this have to do with 2020?
If you’d asked me prior to 2020 if I trusted God, I would have most certainly answered, “Yes, of course I trust Him.” And, I would’ve meant it. But then 2020 arrived, and finally, after 45 years of life, I started to learn what trusting God really means.
2020 was a rough year for me, as I’m sure it was for you. Like so many folks in the world, I suffered job loss (twice!), and I stood by helplessly as the publishing industry, an industry I love dearly and have built my life around, collapsed before my very eyes. To add insult to injury, my mom was diagnosed with a particularly dangerous form of cancer. At times, it felt like more than I could bear.
(I hasten to add that my struggles were, and are, relatively small compared to what others have gone through. Some folks have suffered much worse than I have during this pandemic.)
As 2020 progressed, however, I found myself leaning on the Lord more and more, until, at last, I realized He was all I had to lean on. He is, in fact, all we ever have to lean on, whether we know it or not. Some of us, myself included, are sometimes a little slow in learning that truth.
As I started to rely deeply on Jesus, He started teaching me things: things about Him, things about me, and things about the way I relate to Him, and to others. Some things were lessons I once knew, but had somehow forgotten, and other things were lessons brand new to me. He’s taught me way too much over the past twelve months to recount here. And, besides, most of it is too personal for me to ever feel comfortable sharing. Suffice it to say that, somehow, I've been changed. I’m no longer the same person.
Similar to the statement I made to my wife years ago, after I first started running, today I can say, “Before 2020, I thought I trusted God. Now, I know what trusting God really means!”
And, it’s humbling to realize we never, in this life at least, arrive at a perfect faith, a perfect trust. One year from now, I might very well look back and say to myself, “Wow. I only thought I knew how to trust God in 2021.”
Of course, all of this talk of trusting God really won’t resonate with you until you’ve placed your faith in Christ. In fact, nothing in the Christian life will make too much sense until your relationship with Him is right. Fortunately, the Bible tells us how this can happen, and, as it turns out, it’s surprisingly simple.
In Matthew 11:28 (NLT), Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” In John 6:37, He promises to receive us when we come to Him, and, in Romans 10:13, He promises to save us when we ask. If you aren’t familiar with those three verses, look them up. They’re worth checking out.
Finally, let me conclude by saying that I never became a good runner. I am proud to report that I did become a reasonably slow jogger. One of the things I’ve learned about myself is that I wasn't made to move fast. When I run at a pace of 10 minutes per mile, I feel like I’m killing it.
Also, I traded running in the beautiful, crisp, mountain air of Colorado for running in the Texas heat. However, this isn’t such a bad thing. I'm convinced that running underneath the hot Texas sun produces good character, as well as a lovable disposition. To be honest, I’m not really sure what that last part about a “lovable disposition” means, but I thought I’d throw it in anyway.
Thanks for reading.