Sunday, April 12, 2015

St. Louis Marathon 2015

"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9

Yesterday was the 15th Anniversary of the St. Louis Marathon. The course had been changed and now boasted the motto "Flatter, Faster, Two Bridges, Two States." And it was, in one word.... amazing! By God's grace, this was my fifth time to run the marathon and the new course was well worth the wait. It was everything it was advertised to be and even better. The two bridges (the Eads and MLK) gave a spectacular view of the Mississippi River and it was indeed flatter and faster as it brought the runners through Missouri and Illinois. The added 3.5 mile Bridge Challenge (from one bridge to the other) was a good incentive for most of the runners to pick up the pace. It offered an additional medal to the person traversing the "race within the race" the quickest.

As a member and representative of TEAM413 (the world's largest ministry of endurance athletes), I was blessed to have spent the two days prior to the race at the St. Louis Marathon expo. I love talking to the people that attend as much as I love running the race. While most say they run for fun, to stay fit or for medals, there's some that run to cope with tragedy, illness or even death. These are the stories that inspire me. One such gentleman, Ryan Walker, was "that one story"-he was not a runner (yet) but there to support one. I watched his peculiar gait (quite obviously unable to move his left side) as he walked slowly by our booth and then turned around. As he stopped and asked questions, I told him what we were all about. When he asked if you had to be a runner or endurance athlete to be a member, I replied, "No. Endurance is how you define it. It may, for some, be a marathon and for others a simple walk to the mailbox. It's simply enduring something you thought you could never do because you found the power through Christ to do it." "Well then, I want to buy a shirt and be a member," he told me. And then he shared his story....

At the age of 16, Ryan had a brain aneurysm that ruptured (fatal in 40% of all cases, 66% of survivors suffer permanent damage). As he was taken into surgery his parents were told that he probably would not survive, and if he did would be unable to care for himself or live a normal life. They, along with their church, faithfully prayed and he came out of surgery. That was 2007. Ryan is now a 24 year old man with a job, living on his own and praising God for the event that forever changed his life. He explained how it was important for him to work out every day to keep the mobility he had. He shared that he was excited at the thought of wearing his new shirt at the gym and that he wanted to be a bold witness to others of the great things Christ has done, and is doing, in his life.

And then Ryan said something that I will never forget, "I'm glad this happened. I am the person I am because of it and I know, with absolute certainty, that God is real because of what I went through." As he walked away, I cried. Oh Lord, thank you for turning trials into triumphs. And thank you for the reminder that your power is made perfect in our weakness to bring glory to your name. And thank you that You are real!

Heavenly Father, thank you for the many, many blessings in our lives. Thank you for the trials too Lord, the things that are hard to endure at this moment but will serve to strengthen our faith and bring praise and glory to your name after we have persevered. Give us your strength in our weakness that we might surrender all to you and know, with certainty, that God is real! It's in your precious name we pray, Jesus. Amen. 

Happy Running!!!

Power of your love - Hillsong