"Therefore anyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house upon the rock. The rains came, the wind blew...but it did not fall. But anyone who hears these words and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rains came, the wind blew...and it fell with a great crash." Matthew 7:24-26 NIV
Many of us know these words that were spoken by Jesus as he delivered one of his most famous sermons recorded in the Bible. He was speaking to a group of individuals about practical ways of living and everything he said could be applied to our lives today. It was like a bolt of lightning when it hit me the other day how this passage applied to my life right now. So many times we get so caught up in our woes we forget the lessons that have been laid out for us and how we can learn from them.
When I crossed the finish line in the 2009 Rocket City Marathon last December 12th, I was on top of the world. I had just completed a 26.2 mile foot race in 3:40. Some 53 minutes faster than the last one I did and well ahead of the race goal I had set for myself of completing the race sub 4 hour fashion. Yeh, this time is nothing special in the realm of world class runners as the winners of this particular race were showered and on their way back to Kenya by the time I finished. But it was special to me because of what I had done to accomplish it. I was joined by members of my family that affirmed my special feat and was proud to hear my Dad exclaim I had become a well-trained athlete.
In the days following the race I was excited with the prospects of improving my time and even being able to qualify for the Boston Marathon. This race is so renowned and is considered the Holy Grail for all marathon runners. It is so popular, in fact, that participants must complete a qualifying run faster than predetermined times. The times vary depending on age and gender but for me that time is 3:30. Having just run one in 3:40, I felt the goal was more than attainable. I had been crafting my 10 week training plan for a local qualifying event when I had an episode which put it all to a screeching halt. My first visit with a physical therapist was scheduled for Wednesday, December 16th and it was there I began to understand why I had been suffering for so long with a sore lower back and numbing right leg. The therapist showed me the best way he could how my right hip was mechanically out of wack and this misalignment was causing an impingment on nerves and generally fostering a hodge-podge of painful events. “What I need you to do,” he began, “is to stop running for a while.” “How long is a while?” I asked incredulously. “long enough to get the situation under control.” He said. Well, I can tell you that response was probably the most nefarious thing I have heard in a while. The nerve of him to suggest I suspend an activity that had become such an important part of my life the past couple of years.
It wasn’t until one day last week, that the realization that this time off from running may be the best thing that ever happened to me. I immediately thought of the passage from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Without a firm, lasting foundation upon which to build, nothing will last. That goes for any experience in our lives; athletic training included. Over the past few weeks I have begun rebuilding my walking posture with the intention of translating this to my running posture. I have plans to insure I am developing a running style that is most conducive to injury-prevention. Does that mean I will never get injured again? Probably not. But it does mean I am going to be less proud of doing what it takes to run the right way and more concerned with enjoying the running experience each day and not taking it for granted.
God has given me the gift of athleticism. I will get back to where I was before and as I travel that path I am going to be building on a firm foundation of physical, emotional and spiritual development. That will be my gift to Him.