Saturday, September 21, 2013

Find the door

Doors are underrated and unappreciated. Just think. When was the last time you thanked God for a door? Probably never, huh?

Consider the door. Some are grand and elaborate. When traveling through Europe, magnificent,
massive cathedral doors are surpassed only by what is found beyond. But those are the exception rather than the rule. Many common everyday doors are non-descript hinged slabs of wood or metal. Some have big windows, little windows, or may be completely see through. Doors can be gleaming and clean, others worn and warped. Brown, black, red, yellow, blue, purple, chartreuse. You name it: you can find a door of any color.

Regardless of size, color, or material, all doors have one thing in common: They are in the context of a wall. Doors provide a necessary passageway through a solid obstacle. No door means no entry, no way to get to the other side. If we try to smash our way through the wall, we come away bruised, bleeding, and battered. We need the door.

So here's the rub. What happens when we "hit the wall"? Is it the end of our journey? We've all been there. An athlete may "hit the wall" when blood sugar drops or muscle glycogen hits all-time lows. A writer "hits the wall" when words won't flow. A working mom "hits the wall" when she tries to do it all.

But in this case, consider the runner. Walls may have been made with runners in mind. Bodies are stretched to the limit. Breathing is labored. Legs feel log-like. Arms go numb and the mind gets confused. Boom! He hits the wall running full-on, knocked backwards from the sudden impact. The runner struggles to his feet and lurches awkwardly forward. Boom! He hits the wall again. This time regaining his feet is more difficult. He knows The Wall is a bad place to be; it is a place of pain and excruciating fatigue. But what choice does the runner have? He submits to The Wall. He concedes defeat. He shuffles off, head hung low, waiting for another day. A better day.

Or does he? Is there another choice?

Yes. Find the door.

Pushing through that door is scary, terrifying even. The runner has no idea what lays beyond. He has never been on the other side. The door has no window to the future; just a promise of the unknown. Arms outstretched, his fingers reach for the door. His mind races. He's never been so close. Should he push it gently and sneak a peak through the open crack?

No! He has finally found the illusive door many seek but few find. He must fling it open for all it's worth. He must commit to see what the other side holds. He must go boldly and without fear for that door is the gateway to making the impossible possible.

My dear team, as you hit the wall, look for the door. Burst through that door with all the power you can muster. The other side is full of promise. The other side is where you drop the weight of previous limits.

Find The Door. Embrace The Door.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Beautiful feet?

Tres' foot
Seriously? Calling this foot beautiful is like calling an elephant petite. This thing with five toes pointing the way is swollen, hairy, and sports colors an artist would covet. The only good thing is that it's probably been soaked and thus, has been de-stinkified. But still, it's hardly comparable to a sunset laden in hues of orange and yellow and brilliant gold while viewed from lofty mountain peaks.

Feet of the unknown
So, how about these feet, the owner of which shall remain nameless for obvious  reasons of privacy and protection from epic embarrassment. The bony, veined, crooked and calloused pedestals have been through the ringer, leaving more than a few toenails behind, some of which have never been seen again. Nine fractures, seven incisions, six screws. Too many miles to count--or at least recall. Nope. Not very beautiful (unless you happen to be an amputee willing to settle for anything).

But I'll tell you what is beautiful. It's the feet attached to the legs of my runners. Why? You might predict (quite accurately) that some of their feet have a good case of the uglies as well. However, that's of little import. What makes them so attractive is they carry their owners to live out a principle:

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” 
(Isaiah 52:7)

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10: 14-15)

Last Friday my team once again headed for the hills--literally. It was to be a short but intense workout with multiple repeats up and down a particularly difficult incline. As is the usual case, the faster runners surged ahead with the less experienced and slower runners struggling from behind. "As soon as you finish your workout, you can head back down the mountain," I offered, knowing that most wanted to shower and eat before enjoying the first offering of Friday night football.

But something happened. As the lead runners descended the hill for the last time, none left the day's arena. They began to cheer for the slower runners as they continued to confront the unyielding mountain. As I was finishing my own last round trip, I saw Phillip, a senior leader, running shoulder to shoulder with a lagging runner. That was his sixth trip up the hill. Once at the bottom and amidst shouts of encouragement for the finishing runner, he joined up with yet another team member and led her up the hill. He matched the girl step for step all the way to the top--again-- and for the seventh time. It's not that he wasn't tired after his hard effort on the first five. He simply saw the need to deliver good tidings in person.

As Phillip brought the last runner to the finish, high fives abounded and smiles flashed all around. As a coach, I was amazed. Not a single person left early though they were permitted to do so. They stuck around until the last person completed the workout. Then they ran as a happy but tired pack back down the mountain. Together. As one. Like people who really, truly care about each other. But as their coach, I can assure you this is not an uncommon event. For the runners on the Liberty Christian Academy cross country team, this is their everyday. It's who they are. It's what they do.

Sometimes their dog-tired, worn and wonderful, fast (and slow) feet run silent and deep. No need for loud and obnoxious. But other times, like a stampeding herd of buffalo, their feet stomp out the message: "Good news! Great tidings! Our God reigns!"

May these words of my mouth [the path of our feet] and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer (Psalms 19:14).



Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Review: "Take Time to be Holy" by Bob Hostetler

You are what you eat. At least that’s what some say, including my dear mother. Probably true. But perhaps just as valid is this: You are what you read. Think about it. My Mother (and probably many other mothers across this fine country) was also known to say, “Garbage in. Garbage out.” I suspect the opposite is also true: “Beauty in. Beauty out.”
Bob Hostetler recognized beauty and truth when he was a young man. He was introduced to Samuel Logan Brengle when he read a biography on the life of the Salvation Army’s evangelist. Inspired by that life story, Hostetler consumed all of Brengle’s writings before his twentieth birthday. In a day when comic books may have been preferred over works describing sanctification and holiness, Hostetler internalized the truth and worked out the reality of those revelations in his own life and writing..

Though Brengle met his Lord in 1936, his words live on—only better. In a bold effort, Hostetler, a distinguished author himself, edits Brengle’s devotional works in a compilation entitled “Take Time to be Holy.” Keeping the gist intact by replacing hard-to-understand language and archaic sentence structure, the year-long daily devotional offers substance to the reader. Each short reading includes a Bible verse from which a poignant and illustrative story unfolds. Within moments, the devotional reader is delivered a bit of truth on which to chew all day long.

“Take Time to be Holy” is a fluff-free zone. Read at the risk of developing spiritual insight and progressive sanctification through meditating on God’s truth and living out its application.

Available Sept 3, 2013   Check it out on Amazon!

A walk in the park and a pink finish line

By the time I finish most races, I've figured out at least the first paragraph of my post-race story. This was one of the few where the ...