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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How Running Saved My Life

Running is the means by which God has changed my life. Let me explain. I started running over 2 years ago. It all started by when I wanted to get in shape and started to bike (I was 25 lbs. heavier). One day I decided that running was easier. I could just put shorts, tennis shoes and go! So I did. After that I thought I should do it everyday. That's how the running started. God has used running to change me.

I have been a Christian since I was 13. After serving for over 15 years, in various ways including, a church-planter pastor I came to the decision that it was enough. My life was at a crossroads. The experiences and the suffering my wife and I experienced during this time (it would take a long time to explain, but if you know us you probably know a lot already) led me to a state of questioning everything I had believed. I stopped praying (I know some Christians don't pray but this isn't normal). I stopped reading my Bible (I know some Christians don't read their Bible but this isn't normal). I stopped teaching the Bible (this isn't for everyone!). My life went on the decline. I even wondered whether God existed. I didn't do all this in rebellion but due to disillusionment.  I was disillusioned with God and the Church and yet I did not stop going to church.  I knew that God wasn't surprised on my behavior nor did I expect Him to punish me as some would think.  Yet, deep in my heart I couldn't let go of everything I knew about Him.  I concluded He was real but I struggled and wrestled with many questions. The hardest was praying. How could I pray if I wasn't sure He answered any prayers. Here is where running comes in the picture.

It was during my beginning runs when my son decided to go on a mission trip to Ecuador for a couple of weeks.  For the first few days they were disconnected from us with no means of communication. I started to worry a lot and think the worst of thoughts (i.e. death). In my desperation I started to offer gruntings to God. It was so hard to do this. It was so unnatural but I continued doing it. Slowly I started to say complete sentences. I told him I asked only for a few things: to protect my family, to help me be a blessing to others and to know Him.  All this happened while running. My running became my time of prayer. Slowly God became to change me. He started teaching me, slowly, each time I prayed to Him. Then I began reading the Bible again but this time with "new" eyes.  God's Word became alive and I saw it as if I was reading it for the first time.  God showed me that if I was to live, it would be all for Him or nothing at all. I told Him, "This is the last time I am going to try..." Hard to believe I said this but God had much to teach me.  A year ago, I taught the Bible to the youth where I serve now,  after 9 years of not stepping to a podium.

So that's how running was used by God to change me and continues to do so.  My running time is my prayer and worship time. I can't run without doing this. Never will running be only running for me. It will always be worship time for me. It will keep me in shape (get it?).
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Update: 12/8/2016 - Seven years have passed and I still run 6 days a week. I still use this time to commune with God. It is during this time that I also get some of my best instruction from Him. I am often working on a sermon and God brings forth the ideas that I need to put in my sermon. I am thankful for how God has used running to save me from myself.
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