This morning, I looked at each one of the beautiful pictures that our photographer and friends captured at this past Saturday’s graduation race in Perry. I am elated with joy for the men and women who have completed their training and now have met their goal of completing their first 5k race. I am overwhelmed with so much gratitude from our Father for leading us through this journey and keeping us all committed to the race. This season has surely been full of hills and valleys for each member, and seeing each of one cross the finish line makes it all worth while! Seeing everyone cheer, slap hands, hug, with tears of happiness and accomplishment as their friends and family members reached the finish line was such a beautiful site to see! Doesn’t it make you wonder how our friends and family will greet us in heaven? Oh glorious day!
This season had a dynamic mix of personalities that definitely shined like stars! Each member was full of spark, encouragement, motivation and support. It did not take long at all for friendships to be created and bonds to be made. Each one paired up, reached out, motivated each other and encouraged one another to push through each workout. To have begun with 48 students and graduated with 41 is such an incredible commitment from the group. Talk about perseverance. I know I learned a lot about myself and 41 others that prior to class I did not know. Each one of these amazing individuals have an incredible story–all different, but are truly beautiful testimonies of how God is working in their lives and how they wanted to do something more. One commonality that the team shared is the desire to Run for God. God has given each one the desire to start the race, the next step has been completely up to each member.
One of my favorite quotes says just that, “The journey to God begins with one small step. After that, one step at a time. He doesn’t expect us to run the mile, but He promises to give you the strength to go the distances.” To me, the journey to the graduation race was so much more meaningful than finishing race itself. Here we are two days after the race and I am already missing the fellowship that the regular training sessions brought to the team. I was so overwhelmed by the bonding and camaraderie that was established and the comfort level that developed. It was all such a wonderful blessing to have shared. Together we learned the importance of recognizing that Christianity is a team event, not solo. We learned to stretch ourselves, and help others stretch in the process. Most importantly, we each learned to become others minded by watching out for each other and leaving no one behind.
Ephesians 4:11-16 states:
“11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
It seems to me that God has given this group this time together for each of us to create a sense of unity and better equip each other to not only finish the race, but to grow and become teachers and disciples, so that the body of Christ may be built up in those around us and in ourselves. Let us not forget that relationships that were developed and mended as a result of our spiritual journey together.
I believe it is now up to this group to continue to expand our Christian fellowship by reaching out to others we know and invite them into this ministry and allow them to experience the personal and spiritual growth we have been so blessed to know. It is now up to us to share this personal growth and experience with our churches and communities, so that the men and women can grow physically stronger as well as spiritually. It is my belief this newfound growth will allow them to be more mature parents, spouses, leaders, and most importantly Christians.
After all if we cultivate the soil of men and women and nurture their physical state the spiritual seeds, the Church plants will grow and become splendid vine like the seedlings in Ezekiel 17:8, “It had been planted in good soil by abundant water so that it would produce branches, bear fruit and become a splendid vine.”
I will pray that each of you look deeper than your race experience and remember the seedlings that have been planted in your good soil that you have spent these many months cultivating and help Run for God continue to grow and flourish as it had helped each of us grow and flourish. As a supporting ligament of the body of Christ what role will you play in this growth?