3rd Leg, Last Mile

IMG_0283

Nobody makes them do this. It’s purely voluntary. Not only that–they actually pay for the privilege of doing this to themselves!

Once a year, a few thousand people band themselves together into teams of 8 to 12 runners, each runner taking on several legs of a 198-mile relay race.

This event is called Hood to Coast, and it’s kind of a big deal. Some of my friends took on the HTC this year. Pat and Becky did it! Desiree did it! Nidia did it!

Nidia took on 3 legs of the relay. The first leg was 4 miles, which she ran at a pace of 7 minutes 18 seconds per mile, a personal record for her! Way to go, Nidia!

Second leg she was still doing really well at a pace of 10:30 minutes per mile. Great job, Nidia!

Now all that’s left is to engage cruise control and coast it on home, right? Apparently not.

Here’s what Nidia says about the third leg:

“By the last leg, I cannot explain to you how exhausted I was. Each leg has HTC mile markers. I was thinking, these markers are all wrong! There’s no way a mile is this long!

You would think as I was going through them that it would get easier as I got nearer to the end. It was SOOO hard! It was hard. It was VERY hard. I was grateful for the amount of scripture that I know because that’s all that kept me going. Over and over, repeating to myself, I can do all things, He will not forsake me, All things work together for good…

The miles dragged on forever. I doubted whether or not I could do this. People were passing me and I thought, I just can’t do this. 

Running in the dark, alone except for when you’re being passed by another runner. One of them said to me and I treasured his encouragement, ‘We’re all in this misery together. Just Keep Running.’ “

Nidia’s team had a finishing time just 1 minute slower than they had bid! Over a 198 mile total relay, they were off their time-bid by a single minute! That’s pretty great, in my non-runner opinion.

There were 70 mile-per-hour winds at the coast that weekend. The final leg was run at night, uphill and against high winds. It was a treacherous time, a testing time, a face to face encounter with doubts that shriek and whisper in the cold, rainy dark.

“I honestly didn’t think I was going to finish that last mile.  It was just the most amazing thing. The struggle is what made it amazing!”

That third leg, that last mile. That’s the one where everything in you wants to stop, give up and console yourself that you gave a good try. You showed up, you made an effort. That’s more than most ever do.

You want to stop the pain and receive the comfort. You draw on your conviction, on your faith, your internal fortitude, the encouragement of passers-by, and the camaraderie that we are all in this misery together. At the end of it, champions are made in the third leg, last mile.

Nidia Wheeler is such a champion. I wager you are too, if you’ll hold on just a little while longer.

Just. Keep. Running.

————————————

“Therefore, since we have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us.”

Hebrews 12:1-2, Holman Christian Standard Bible

 

 

In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day

I’m sure Mark Batterson is great man, a strong leader, a caring pastor, a visionary, a prayer warrior. I don’t know him but I’ve now read two of his books, and I’ll say based on reading those that he is anything but nice and safe.

This book was a gift from Will Watkins, a new friend I met in June of this year. The book arrived on my 45th birthday. I don’t know if Will was aware of that, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was. He’s an amazing leader like that.

IMG_0629

Today I sat on the grass outside the aquatic center at Sunriver Resort in Bend, Oregon, and read the final chapter of this book, In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day, and it stirred up the same scary thoughts as that other book of Mark’s, The CircleMaker.

I loved my wife so deeply, even for a decade after our divorce. It was difficult for people to understand my reasons; it was harder still for me to explain them. I just believe that God invited me into a partnership with him that meant remaining available to my wife no matter what or how long it took.

On my 44th birthday, I committed to take a year and simply clear my heart of anything but worship, to let worship and praise become my embrace, and to decide nothing until my 45th about whether or not to continue waiting for a marriage now long dead.

Like Jerry Falwell says in a video I watch often, I was no longer praying for revival, I was praying for resurrection. Eventually there came a time I stopped praying for even that, and simply asked God for fortitude and peace to remain useful to the Kingdom in the remaining days alone.

On my 45th birthday, and leading up to it, I chose in favor of happiness. I chose to open myself up to loving someone else and marrying again. And this book of Mark’s really challenges that decision. My belief that God called me to stand for my wife, has not changed. I could easily now say that I think I misheard Him or that I believe He has now released me from any obligation, but the truth is I don’t think I misheard Him, and I never felt any obligation to stay. I was always free to go, but free to go means also free to stay.

So here I am, having lost faith and been returned by it, trusting God and choosing to love someone new. I don’t know if what I’m doing is right. I’m not sure which path among the options is the lion that God would have me chase. There are some lions I’m certain about, as certain as a mortal can be.

When it comes to ministry and music, I’m certain that I’m in exactly the right place at Coast Hills, and I’m even writing music again. What a refreshing feeling. In terms of business, I’m again certain that I am building the right business model with the right company and the right product and the right team. He even gave me the vision of 300 Lions twenty months ago, long before I had heard of Mark Batterson or read any of his writing.

In the area of Love and Romance, and Marriage, I am uncertain. I’ve been asking God to speak to me decisively on the matter for some time and, having heard nothing, I made a choice, not out of defiance or insolence, but simply because I’m curious about happiness and I’d like to try it out. I’ve had Joy for many years, even during my most unhappy years, and now I’m ready to try happiness, too!

For the Lions I know, and for the ones I don’t, this also I am certain of–that God favors risk-takers and giant-slayers, and guides those who trust in Him.

So I’m suited and ready to give chase. Someday I shall shake Mark Batterson by the hand and thank him for scaring me to the next level.

I recommend this book to you, because I believe there are scary opportunities ahead of each of us, and I believe that facing them prepared and eager leads on to amazing victories not just for you but for the ones you are destined to bless and lead.

So I encourage you to encounter the questions and challenges in this book, if you dare (insert Halloween voiceover…”If You Dare…..”)

It’s every bit as comfortable as jumping into a pit with a lion on a snowy day, but you’ll walk out a much different person, and wouldn’t you like to meet that version of you?