If you know us at all, you know that Mike and I are not athletes. In fact, I’m the person who will drive around a parking lot 6 times rather than having to walk further from my car to the store. Mike did at least play sports in high school – my “sport” in high school was cheerleading. You know those cheering competitions you see on TV from time to time with the high energy and the jumping and the throwing and the cartwheels…we weren’t like that at all. We were the extreme opposite of that.
Growing up my parents had a rule that all of the kids had to play two sports – or at least try out for two sports. The bad thing (for me) was that in my very small, Christian school everyone who tried out made the team. So in 7th grade I played basketball. In 8th grade my parents changed their rule. They told me I didn’t have to play basketball anymore (I must’ve been really bad). I AM NOT AN ATHLETE.
So at the beginning of this year when I decided to exercise more, that was a big step. I didn’t know at the time just how big of a step. I started out this year with a desire to live a better story. I didn’t know what that meant for me other than I knew I needed to be involved in something that mattered…really mattered…making-a-real-difference-in-people’s-lives kind of mattered. I knew it would involve risks and sacrifice but I wanted to love people, to help people, and to create a better story for Mikayla to grow up in.
I’ve often felt that God has a sense of humor in the way He deals with His children. It seems that He likes putting us in situations that are WAY outside of our box. Maybe we learn more when we aren’t comfortable or in control. Maybe when our helping people causes us to sacrifice we receive greater blessing. Maybe He wants to bring us to a place that causes complete and total reliance on Him so that He receives the honor and glory for what is done. Maybe when He puts us into a situation that we would never have chosen for ourselves, it’s just a gentle reminder that He’s in charge of this thing called life.
This is the kind of story I find myself in today. The kind of story that matters. The kind of story that will cause me to sacrifice and risk much but will help people on the other side of the world. The kind of story that reminds me God must be in charge because I definitely wouldn’t have chosen this for myself. The great thing about this story is that I am not alone. I don’t think I could do this alone. God has given me a husband and several friends who are living this story with me. They will be sacrificing right next to me and as we run (literally) together on this journey we will be able to help each other and support and encourage each other. What’s more is that our impact will be greater because of our unity. Together we can do more than one could do alone.
We are running a marathon.
Let that sink in for a moment…the girl who ran more during 7th grade basketball than I have for the rest of my life combined, is going to run a marathon. We aren’t running just for the sake of running and we definitely aren’t running to get in shape. (I’d love to be “in shape” but that is not nearly enough motivation for me to run.) We are running to raise money to support the work of Blood:Water Mission. BWM provides clean water and aids relief to people in Africa. People in Africa die daily from sickness and disease that could literally be prevented by clean water. They need wells and water filters. They need education about the spread and prevention of aids. They need aids medication. They need people to show them Jesus, people to love and care about them.
I can’t physically go to Africa – and if I could, I wouldn’t know the first thing about digging a well. But the people at BWM are doing this already. They just need support to continue the work they are already doing. Sure, I could send them money. But for me to write a check and put it in the mail involves only me. I would be the only one allowed to participate in that story. By running a marathon and seeking sponsors, dozens of people will be invited to participate in this story. If all of them actually do participate, the benefit to the people in Africa will be dozens of times more than the benefit I could make alone.
The emotions I feel at the thought of actually running a marathon range from excitement to sheer panic. There are definitely risks involved – what if I can’t finish, what if I get hurt, what if I pass out or die from exhaustion or dehydration? There will definitely be sacrifice. If you’ve ever looked into training for a marathon you know that it is much like getting a part-time job…well, if a part-time job forced you to run yourself silly. It takes a lot of time to train for a marathon. Hours and hours and hours every week for many, many weeks. I’m somewhat looking forward to the intense training schedule because I’ll be forced to remove time-wasters from my life. TV will be the first to go – or at least be greatly reduced. I imagine it will feel like cleaning out a closet – getting rid of the worthless stuff to make room for the valuable stuff.
More than anything else, I’m anxious to see what God will do. Yes, there is fear for myself, but really, it’s not about me. Like I said before, I would not have chosen to run for any reason other than someone chasing me with a weapon (and even then, it would be a matter of weighing the pros and cons before actually running). I wanted a story and this is the one God placed before me. We aren’t running for our own benefit or gain. We are simply running to tell a story. Our brothers and sisters in Africa are dying because they lack something as basic and common as clean water. We can help them.
To read more of our marathon story visit the H2O Runners Blog.