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Rite of passage: A running start

I don’t like running, especially if it is required of me. As a child, I loved chasing after lightning bugs or baseballs. I loved it when my brothers and I ran through the woods behind our house. Nonessential running was freedom. But when I went to school and we were required to run around the football field, I didn’t like it.

It seems I keep finding myself in places where running is required or demanded. When I arrived at basic training in Fort Campbell, Ky., I was assigned as a platoon leader. What was my job first thing every morning? Take the platoon on a 3-mile run.

I don’t run with grace; my gait is more like a washing machine when it goes into the spin cycle and the load is off-center. You hear the thump, thump sound as my right leg comes around again. If you were sitting as a bystander as I ran my platoon by, your observation would be that it looked more like the platoon was chasing me and less like I was leading them.

My oldest son, Jeremiah who is 44 and a runner, decided that he wanted to run the Boston Marathon this year in memory of a friend who passed away. The problem was that he had never run a marathon, and you have to qualify to get invited to this prestigious race. The next qualifier for him was in Atlanta, so he and his wife got in the car, drove to Atlanta and ran the marathon. He came in fourth in his age division and 12th overall in Atlanta. He did so well that he was invited to be in the first wave of runners for the Boston Marathon.

I tell you all of this because the Boston Marathon was canceled this year, and they have offered him a place in the 2021 run. He still can run the Boston Marathon this year, but in his own neighborhood. For Christmas last year, he gave me a T-shirt that said, “Boston Marathon Support Team 2020.” On Sept. 13, I will be in Dallas to be part of the support team as he runs the virtual Boston Marathon alone. Our family will be spread out on the course with Gatorades, water and words of encouragement.

Jeremiah had only one request for me: that I run the last mile with him. Now, I am in a dilemma:

  1. I don’t like running.
  2. I am 13 months shy of my 70th birthday.
  3. Did I say I don’t like running?
  4. A mile is a lot longer than it used to be.
  5. I don’t want to slow him down and extend his time.
  6. Even in September, Dallas is hot.
  7. My name is Walker, not Runner.
  8. I haven’t run a mile since my Army days.
  9. I think my son wants to get his inheritance early.
  10. Did I mention I don’t like running?

Still, my son invited me. It touched my heart that he wants his old dad to share in this experience. We have had many of these special moments in our lives, from climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to hiking Petra together. So how can I say no?

I have changed my training exercises from hiking and climbing to running and more cardio. Yesterday, I ran two miles at a moderate pace, and today, I was able to run a mile matching what he says will be his speed for the final mile.

There is something about a father and son doing something together. It is a sweet spot for our relationship, and I know it was for Jesus and His Father. In fact, He and His Father have always worked together.

Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does’” (John 5:19).

Even today, Jesus invites you to join Him in His work. He invited a woman at a well who had been married five times before and was living with a man who wasn’t her husband to follow Him. He invited some fishermen to drop their nets and follow Him. He invited a wealthy and educated man to join Him in the Kingdom work. And it was this man, Nicodemus, who helped wrap Jesus for burial.

Jesus even invited a broken-down author and missionary to continue to follow Him. And He is inviting you to come and join Him in learning of His life and ways. His invitation is very simple: “‘Come,’ He replied, ‘and you will see’” (John 1:39).

Walker Moore

Author: Walker Moore

View more articles by Walker Moore.

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