Last week there was a 5k walk-run for the incredible orphan ministry and choir His Little Feet. Nestled in a park looking out across the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, we clothed ourselves in bright green shirts and began the trek for what would become a painful but encouraging experience.
While tying up the running shoes, I found several factors against me:
- I have not jogged in the last two months (mainly due to lack of time). Note: time or no time is not a good excuse for lack of exercise, especially at the half way point of a 5k.
- I live near Nashville where elevation is not much of a problem. Running in Colorado where elevation is climbing near a mile high means less oxygen to breathe – especially when you’re not use to it. Note: when you run, jog, or even walk, you need oxygen.
- My green shirt was a little tight. Note: tight green shirts also restrict the flow of oxygen.
But soon the race started, though unannounced to me – as I stood talking with a friend near the back. As the cloud of green headed out, I decided I would start with a jog and then, when near exhaustion came, switch to a walk, alternating as much as possible. So off I went and soon found myself in front of the walkers. It wasn’t long before I found a few of my Ellerslie brothers in a light jog with grit and gusto in their faces. So I kept pace.
Before the race began, these same brothers encouraged me to jog with them. I laughed. With the above three strikes against me, I knew it would only be a few paces before they would pass and I would be left walking for a bit. But as I kept up I was encouraged to keep jogging, even when my body screamed otherwise. My dear friend Nik began running this summer and was setting our pace. James running alongside the two of us encouraged, challenged, beckoned, pressed, and shouted words of exhortation to keep going. Words and mantras from the summer flew out of his lips as he refused to let us slow down or quit the jog. I looked at Nik and declared, “I’ll keep jogging as long as you do,” secretly hoping he would slow down soon so my body could have a slight reprieve.
We panted, puffed, and pressed onward. Finally reaching the half way point that marked our turn-around, we walked a hundred or so paces before taking up the jog again. As we neared the finished, though exhausted, Nik took off in a full sprint with liquid velocity and gusto. I passed the finish line soon thereafter with praises upon my lips … well, in between the deep breathes to regain life and consciousness.
It’s crazy. Except for a hundred or so paces of walking, I completed a 5k in a light jog. Last October, in the middle of my half marathon training, I had to jog-walk-jog-walk a 5 mile race. Here I was without training, in high elevation, finishing a 5k with two major differences: I was completely dependent on Jesus to get me through and there were a couple men who “forced” me to press onward.
There is something to be said about camaraderie and a Godly brotherhood of men who press each other – not just in a 5k race but further and deeper down the Narrow Way of the Cross. A few weeks ago I talked about iron sharpening iron and men who have that influence in my life. Having such men who will come alongside and press, exhort, encourage, and refuse to allow any flesh, flab, or fluff in my life – brings about another level of passion, focus, and intensity. I am not talking about the modern understanding of “accountability” that leaves individuals helpless, lacking, and in the same state they started. I am referring to a band of brothers who encourage one another, fight battles back to back, hold up each other’s arms when weary, stand in the gap, pray with calloused knees, and aggressively go after Jesus together. A group of men who think nothing of themselves so Jesus can spill and spend their lives for His glory and pleasure.
What if we would don the bright green tshirts, coming alongside to exhort one another to jog (not walk) down the endless frontier of the Deeper Christian Life (ie: Jesus)?
Oh, and we later found out they had miscalculated the distance. It was actually between 4-4.5 miles (rather than the 5k distance of 3.1 miles). My legs certainly reminded me of that fact for the next several days.