I suspect that nearly every mortal runner has questioned his or her faith at some point in time. It might be questioning one's faith in general. Or it might be questions about the relationship between one's running and one's faith.
I know that some don't believe in God. Some believe in God but believe that God is rather hands off in the world today. Others believe that God takes an active role and answers prayers. I am in the last category.
Those prayers are sometimes big--help a person get back his faith; bring a person back to her health; etc. Sometimes they are mundane. Some may say that prayers about running are mundane. Certainly, if I were to pray, "God, please grant me a winning time," I'd consider that mundane. However, as I reflect back on my adaptation of Eric Liddell's comment that I blogged about on March 29, "God made me somewhat fast and very persistent. And when I start and complete a long hard run and sincerely share the joy of the experience with others in word or in deed, I feel His pleasure." I don't consider prayers about running mundane. Instead, I consider my prayer, "God, please help me to be nearer to you and more in touch with needs of other and how I can act in a way to show your love to them" to be a powerful prayer. Still not, "Please cure someone close to death" but powerful in its own important way.
Why do I comment on this now? The latest Charm City Run half marathon training group is either one huge set of coincidences or an answer to a prayer. I have a friend with whom I may not always agree on matters of faith, but we do both agree that there are no coincidences. God brings us together with others for a reason. Sometimes a reason it seems only God really understands, but a reason nonetheless.
There are several things about the training group that is about to conclude that could be viewed as coincidences. But for those of us with a faith in a God who answers prayers, I see them as an answer to my prayers and a demonstration that God does take some pleasure in my "starting and completing a long hard run and sincerely sharing the joy of the experience with others in word or in deed."
The latest in the series of what others might interpret as coincidences came just two days ago. I was hoping for a good, last long slow distance run before the half marathon that is coming on Sunday. I got a good run--but it did not end up being slow. I ran 4 of 8 miles at sub 7:15. That was not what I'd intended for the workout, but it felt incredible.
How did all of this occur? A guy name David just showed up. I honestly thought that the group coach had invited him. But, he really did just show up and after a friend named Erik and I started the run together, David caught up and pushed on ahead. I went with him. I didn't realize at the time that he is likely to run 1:18 in the half marathon. That is probably about 18 minutes faster than I'll run.
But running with him just continued to give me a sense of confidence. It continued to be a nice way to get to know someone else. Running with someone who is so much faster than me just gave me that sense of wanting to continue running as long as I can and as fast as I can. And as long as I run, I can continue to help others. Of course, there are other ways to help people, but this is just a very cool way to do so.
David even asked why I run--particularly long distances. He talked about the good feeling. I share that. I also know that I look to prove things to myself in terms of what I can achieve. But most of all, it is because I really feel called to it. I hope to continue to feel called to it and continue to find a way to use it to improve my life and to help to reach out to others (whether it is just encouraging fellow runners or through shared runs with Back on My Feet) to make their lives better as well.