Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Marathon Talk With God

This story is an excerpt from my faith journey article that I wrote back in 2006 for our church newsletter. Many people seem to like hearing it, although it's probably only a good reason to believe for me rather than you. This isn't the only reason I switched from being a skeptic to a believer, but it sure softened me up for other events that followed in my life. Call it a huge stepping stone in learning to doubt my doubts.

Sept. 12, 1997 was a big day. That was the day I went running in Mercer County Park to see if I really could do a marathon. I’d been training all summer long. I had extra time because I was unemployed. I was motivated to do it then, because my wife Nancy and I were in the process of applying to adopt a baby girl from China. It would be almost another year before we got her. I suspected I would have to give up my running, so it was now or never.

It was a beautiful day with temperatures in the 70's. I needed to do 4 laps to do a marathon. The run went very well, till I got to that 4th lap around mile 20-21. My sweat made sores I’d developed sting. I was getting very tired & thirsty. Through my own willpower I made it down to the last half lap, but then the pain was almost unbearable. I thought about giving up. I just did not see how I could make it the whole way.

Growing up, I was taught that it was wrong to ask God for things for ourselves. In a sense, I still believe that. Asking for winning lottery tickets is not the way to heaven. I was really hesitant to ask for help, but I started talking to God as a way to keep going. At that point in my life, I wasn't even sure whether or not I believed there was a God. I didn't ask for help directly, but I got to the point where I asked God to please let me finish what I'd set out to do. I just wanted to conquer the pain long enough to finish that last 3-4 miles.

I’d probably only gone another 5-10 steps, when an amazing thing happened. It was a crystal clear sunny day, but it rained. Not a big huge storm. Just one little cloud that drifted over me. It sprinkled enough water on me to rinse off some of the sweat and keep me going. I managed to finish, but I didn’t tell Nancy or anyone else this part of the story for years for fear they’d say I was nuts and that it was just a coincidence. It might well have been, but the timing of it is so hard to deny. It didn't rain a downpour all over NJ. It just rained on one small patch of the park I was running in just after I'd asked God for help.

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