The year I was turning 50 I decided that on my birthday, at the beginning of July that I would run 50 miles. No reason and no I hadn’t ever run 50 miles in one day. But that was what I decided to do and nothing any sane person could tell me was going to change my mind. Oh sure, really intelligent people said “why not wait until fall when it is a little cooler, it’s not your birthday but it won’t be as miserably hot.” That one did sound good but both my wife, who goes by the title of “forever girlfriend”, and I both knew I’m not really good at listening to others or doing the wise thing. So my forever girlfriend and I began to plan for the big day and I put in lots of training miles while traveling around the country for my job. From January to June I ran in 16 different states, more cities than I care to count and basically pushed myself immensely. There was one thing I hadn’t planned for though and this is where my forever girlfriend comes in. I hadn’t planned for the heat but she had. She purchased a weed sprayer and made nice cold smoothies and planned to jump out of the car every couple of miles and squirt me down to get my core temperature down. She was absolutely amazing. However, around mile 41 she did something that just absolutely floored me. I was struggling bad and was now at a slow shuffle walk and was beginning to question my sanity and whether I could finish this thing. She had her sister let her out of the car and go park about a mile (it seemed like ten at the time) away and she began to walk with me and talk with me. And then she did it. She broke into the most amazing song, The Impossible Dream, with all the hand motions and full voice she could muster after serving me for the last 8 or so hours. It must have been quite the song because as we reached the car which was parked under some trees right by a ranch on this country road, the rancher came out and asked “is everything okay?” With that my forever girlfriend and I had quite the laugh because truth is she can’t carry a tune, at least not that day. And it didn’t matter because for me something broke right there and then. I began to see how much this incredible creäture meant to me and how much I appreciate her. Our marriage hasn’t always been perfect but we’ve always gone through everything together. We haven’t always sung in tune with each other, but we’ve sung anyway and that is when something really deep hit me and I had to pick up a stone from my bag and look at the truth in it and then toss it to the side. I had carried this stone for quite some time and it was an awfully bitter stone to carry around, full of failures, full of regrets and full of shame. See I had never been able to produce a child with my lovely forever girlfriend and in church and missions this isn’t an outward big deal but it is like a big deal that never gets talked about or addressed. See you’ll never be an elder or a deacon or even the perfect missionary if you don’t have children. That was the stone. It was born out in a lot of verses, every time somebody uses the verse in 1 Timothy 3 about every person who desires to be an overseer (if you can’t manage your own family, how can he take care of God’s church) and lots and lots of other verses and examples. Look at your church board, your deacons and elders. See any without kids or grand-kids? Most likely not, unless it is the single youth pastor. And that was the stone I was carrying around and suddenly I had to put truth to it. But where to find truth to apply to this stone in my life.
Luke 6:34 “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.” Strange place granted to find truth but here is where the stone has to be dropped off. Even though life has not gone the way my forever girlfriend and I planned it. We wanted children, felt like failures for not being able to have children. But there is a greater truth behind even this pain in life. We may not have children ourselves but we are children of the Most High. If we keep carrying stones that weigh us down from discovering who we really are then we are never going to come into the place that the King of Kings, the Most High Creator God has already erected for us. In order for me to lay that stone down that I had been carrying around for far too long I needed to step into the truth of who I am in God, not who I am in the church hierarchy or structure. I am an elder in His church, the truth is I may never be an elder or deacon of an organized religious church, and the universal church that is pastored by the Great High God accepts me just as I am. There are no other qualifications needed for this place of leadership. 1 John 3:16 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”
My forever girlfriend taught me something that hot day around mile 41. She taught me that she was willing to lay down her priorities, her methods and her opinion just to walk with me and serenade me with a song while I was attempting to do something that she knew very well was instrumental in me becoming the man God created me to be. My song bird may not be able to carry a tune, but she can carry her man across a finish line with laughs and songs like nobody you’ve ever heard before.
So here’s the part of living an ultra life for you. In the midst of your pain, are you willing to serenade somebody else with a song that is slightly out of tune? Are you willing to be serenaded with a song that is out of tune by somebody who deeply cares for your well-being? If you’re not then you’re never going to be able to lay down that stone and begin running your race with perseverance. If you are then you can look at the heaviest stone in your bag, put truth to it, decide to lay down your life for others and lay that stone right there on the side of the road. For such a heavy stone you’ll probably have to do this drill more than once but I have faith in you. After all you’re an ultra marathoner, the fittest in the bunch and you have all the strength and training already behind you to be able to live an ultra life of continually laying down your life for your brothers and sisters. In this little act of love you will find that your heaviest stone just can’t walk with you any longer.