I've never run a marathon, and I have never had the desire to do so. But I do run. And while I've never run more than fifteen miles at a time, I think I can truly appreciate how a person might feel after running a marathon.
Grateful that it's over. No matter how well-conditioned you are, I would be willing to bet that 99% of marathon runners are glad to hit mile 26.2. I've never heard anyone finish and say, "I'd like to keep running now."
So yesterday, when I read reports of people who had finished the Boston Marathon, and continued running to the hospital to donate blood to the victims of the bombing, my jaw could have hit the ground.
Wow, that's a good spirit. That's love for fellow men. That's completely opposite of what the bomber intended, I'm sure.
Then I was saddened again. As much as those do-gooders wanted to help, I am sure many were turned away. Not for lack of need, as was reported, but more likely for the safety of the would-be giver.
You can't run a marathon and then give blood. It isn't specifically stated in the Red Cross guidelines between not weighing less than 110 lbs. and being over the age of 17, but it's implied.
You see, here's how the initial interview would start:
Nurse: Have you eaten a meal in the past 3 hours?
Donor/runner: No, I think I may have burned up all I've eaten for the past 3 days.
Nurse: Have you had at least 4 cups of water to drink today?
Donor/Runner: Possibly, but then I sweat out about 20. As a matter of fact, I'm a little dehydrated myself right now. Can you pass me that IV?
As much as those kind folks wanted to help, they just couldn't. Physically couldn't. I'm sure at the least it made them sad, and more likely, they felt helpless.
Helpless. A feeling many more of us are trapped in ourselves.
So we have to remember that bad things are going to happen in this world. That was the result of sin entering. And we are not big enough, we are not powerful enough, to defeat it.
Just like the runners did not have enough power left in their bodies to give any to those who suffered in the bombing, we do not have the power to save our world from the sin of the bombers.
We don't even have enough power to save us from ourselves.
It's like we're children. My kids want to drive a car, but they can't. They don't have enough power to control a car. (Not to mention brains developed enough to weigh actions and reactions while driving. Heck, a couple of them don't even have legs long enough to reach the pedals!)
There are some things kids can't do. So they look to the adults to help them.
My kids come home and talk about bullies. Or not even bullies, but people who make them sad. I often don't know what to do, but I'm mom, and I need to do something! I'm the adult, so if I can do something, I will.
What if I can't?
I have friends whose children have diseases. Awful diseases, like cancer. So we, as adults, do what we can. We send money in to find a cure. It usually doesn't help the child get better, but it helps us feel better.
Deep down, we don't just wish we would feel better. We really want it to GET better.
There's no answer for that. Not in this world. Because there will always be evil.
I don't want to parent this world. I can't. I don't have enough power.
But a time has been foretold when this world will have a perfect Ruler. Evil will be locked away. And we will be able to see how this world was meant to be.
We will have a parent. A powerful parent who can get rid of all that is bad. I'm really looking forward to that.
This life is tough. And we can't get through it on our own. Let's put our hope in the One who will bring us a better world.
It's the story of my life.
I love to eat. And what I love to eat is not what is best for my body. While I can say I do enjoy a good spinach salad, given the choice, it would not win out over cheesecake.
My favorite foods, in order, are:
So, yeah, I've got it bad.
The problem is that, even though I can look at a hundred and four unreadble ingredients on the side of a package, I only taste one – and it's good. Normally, when I eat French fries, they don't taste like they are slowly killing me. They taste pretty good. Good enough to eat more.
Sometimes, I'll feel it later. The grease form the fries makes my stomach complain.
Sometimes, I won't feel it later, but I'll notice its fatty remains later.
And all of it shows up later in a way I don't even feel or see at all, on my annual cholesterol report.
Satan works like this in our lives. He's been around for a while, you know. He doesn't live in hell. His home is right here on earth. We're told he is the prince of this world. And he's pretty comfortable here too. Or at least we've become pretty comfortable with his presence.
Scripture tells us Satan walks the earth looking for prey to devour. (I Peter 5:8) Do you see that happening? I don't. Sin doesn't rear its head like a wild animal, it rubs your ankles like a soft kitten. I see a lot of happy people doing what they want, little by little choosing to believe whatever makes them happy. Making themselves the authority they answer to.
Just like the ice cream I eat is slowly killing me through pleasure, Satan is slowly killing us with pleasure too. He is letting us have all the things we want, and we don't always realize when it is bad for us. The more things go our way, taste the way we like, the more it's possible for us to consider that maybe not every good and perfect gift comes from above. (James 1:17) Maybe we can do it on our own, without any help.
We can't. It's all part of the lie. Just like the lie that ice cream tastes so good, it can't be that bad.
Moving on. So, I don't weigh 800 pounds, and I have yet to have a cardiac episode. What's my secret?
Doing what I don't want to do.
Yes, that's right. I run. When I was a kid, I hated running. In the past few years, I've been trying to convince myself that I like it. But I'm convinced no one really “likes” running. It hurts! It's a pain.
It's the total opposite of all that stuff I love to eat – that suff that doesn't feel bad going down but is really bad for me. Running feels really bad going down, but is really good for me.
I've heard some people might actually like running. They have been doing it enough that their muscles know what to do without too much thinking. That surge of endorphins known as “runner's high” comes to them quickly. (I'll admit. That part is rather addicting.)
Running breaks down your muscles, little bit by bit, so that they can be rebuilt stronger when you're done. It forces your heart to beat faster to get the oxygen in your blood to the places in your body that need it. In short, it makes your body work better.
God will do that to us to. Because of the sinful world we live in, we need to be broken down, too. There are parts of us too that need to be exercised when all we want to do is sit around. We need to get up off our keisters and work!
If I didn't indulge so much in what was bad for me, I wouldn't have to run so much. (Between running and biking, I get in about 50 miles a week. That's a lot of donuts.) But if I ate perfectly, could I be completely sedentary?
Moot point. I could never eat perfectly. We have a world that is imperfect. Even if I ate all fruits and veggies, they could be contaminated with pesticides. Is it possible to eat perfectly? I don't know. Because I don't want to. I want the bad stuff. It's too enticing.
Are you catching the connection here? We can't be perfect. As long as we live in this imperfect world with all of Satan's beautiful distractions and brownie sundaes, we're sunk. One thing that this analogy doesn't make clear is how easy the work is we need to do. All we need to do is accept his Gift of Jesus. No running shoes required.
It's still going to be tough to live in this way too tasty world of comfort. So we need to make sure we keep running back to Him.
God provided a way for us. He made it so that we won't die. It might not seem as enjoyable as sin, but that's just because we have never known pure goodness.
Can you imagine the ice cream in heaven. New meaning for the word, “heavenly,” if you ask me. I can't wait to try it.
*Please note. This is meant to be a light commentary and not an exact theology.
Passion Under Grace,