A little over ten years ago, when I was the Associate Pastor here, I came down with a case of adult-onset athleticism. What is adult-onset athleticism, you might ask? I learned it is what happens to adults who didn’t experience or enjoy athleticism in childhood or young adulthood and discover they like it in adulthood. That’s what happened to me. I joined the Delnor health club and worked out there nearly every day, until life became so chaotic that I couldn’t get there. I needed an option that was available before 5am or open after 10pm. So, I decided to go for a run in August of 2013, a little over a mile on the streets surrounding the Pepper Valley parsonage. My knees hurt, my lungs were on fire, but I didn’t die. A week later, when I could walk upstairs normally again, I ran the streets again and it was easier. By October, Caroline Minear taught me about running shoes and that made my knees stop hurting (turns out I overpronate) and she encouraged me to run my first 5k – for Tri-City Family Services- and I crossed the finish line with Kitty Ganzel. I started training that November and began using Runkeeper – an app on my phone to track runs and train for races. This app has tracked my runs for just under ten years and this week (probably the day before this is published) I’ll have logged 5,000 miles!
During the past decade and all those miles, my progress and motivation for running has varied widely. In fact, this winter my pace has slowed significantly and if it’s under 20 degrees out, I just don’t bundle up and head out like I used to. Some cross training and warmer weather could help with that. When I first started running, I thought my progress would be linear. I’d get faster as I built strength and endurance. I also thought I would be able to progressively go farther without limit or at least more effort. When I started running, I didn’t realize there would be plateaus and setbacks, some of which made sense and some of which defied all reason. I didn’t realize how important having coaches and companions would be to stay motivated and to reach goals (thanks Mike and Matt).
Running, and the journey of adult-onset athleticism, has been helpful for my maturity. It helped me to learn that to feel alive and achieve goals you have got to work for it. You need to ask for help and share the journey with people who have the same vision. You must expect to experience setbacks, even though they’re not always easy to anticipate, and trust that working through setbacks will potentially help you go farther than you previously thought possible. For as much as this is true on the racecourse, it is also true in relationships, education, family life and church life.
I think about the journey we’ve been on as a church and how we are moving forward towards the future God has set before us – it’s energizing and exciting! I hope you feel the same. It would also be natural to feel anxious, overwhelmed, frustrated, overconfident, refreshed, alive, accomplished, defeated, ready and a whole host of other emotions as part of the journey.
As a church whose 185th anniversary is approaching in 2024, I think we’re starting to experience another renaissance. As we do, the words from Hebrews seem to fit today, “So then, with endurance, let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne.Think about the one who endured such opposition from sinners so that you won’t be discouraged and you won’t give up.” (Hebrews 12:1-3 CEB)
Here’s to another 5000 miles and 185 years of ministry!