Mile by Mile, Step by Step

From the city....

From the city….

....to the country...

….to the country…

Walking the twenty-four miles from Akron to Clinton was a great experience. We walked through the city, past Canal Park (the Akron Aero’s baseball stadium) and crossed beautiful Summit Lake on the floating bridge. The weather was much hotter than our first twenty-six miles making the walk more intense physically, so we were thankful for the shade of the canal’s tree-canopied trail.  After the first sixteen miles, to think about finishing the last eight was a little discouraging. Instead we chose to focus on the next trailhead which was two miles ahead. Once reaching that point, we then focused on the next trailhead, only one mile ahead, and then the next and the next until we completed that last mile. In order to persevere to the finish, we had to break down the bigger vision into very small goals.

Once again I have to ask myself what I can learn about life from this walk. We may have things we want to do in life and goals we want to accomplish. In order to achieve them, we may simply need to break them down into smaller actions we can implement. More importantly, we may have a vision for our lives, not necessarily what we can do but who we want to become. With God leading and working in us, we can be intentional about applying what He’s teaching us, one lesson at a time.

...enjoying God's creation along the way.

…enjoying God’s creation along the way.

 

 

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From One Generation to Another

As apostles of Christ…we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us….For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8, 11-12

“YOU CAN DO IT! KEEP GOING, GIRLS. WE’LL BE UP THIS HILL IN NO TIME. THIS IS WHY WE RUN- IT’S ALL ABOUT JESUS!” Sweat dripping down my face and short of breath, I focused on putting one foot in front of the other as I ran up the steep hill in my first official race. The shouts of encouragement came from a woman running behind me, directed at several young ladies running ahead. Unbeknownst to this woman, her optimism was helping all those in earshot including myself. As she passed me, I expressed to her my gratitude for her help. She smiled, spoke more words of support and with strength and perseverance conquered the hill and ran on ahead.

After running several miles, I knew the finish line lay just ahead. A young lady I had never met was running in front of me. Like me, she appeared tired and ready to cross the finish line. As we climbed our last hill, I passed her and out of my mouth came the words, “You can do it. We’re almost there- just over the hill.” At that moment, I saw her torso perk up a bit and her head lift. She responded, “Ok, keep going. I’m right behind you.” We crested the hill and as she fell in step beside me, I tried to encourage us both, “Great job. We’re almost there! We’re gonna do this together.” As we crossed the finish line my eyes rested on the older woman who had encouraged me earlier in the race. She had run the race and true to character, was waiting for her younger friends at the finish line. She provided vital support when I needed it and little did she know her example had been caught and passed on. While I was processing what had happened, the young lady I ran with approached me and said, “Thanks for your encouragement. I couldn’t have done it without you.” We exchanged a hug and a smile and she was gone. Reaching my goal of finishing the race was a highlight, but encouraging another one to finish made the run far sweeter.

In the same way, we are running the race of life growing in our love relationship with Jesus. We’re all scattered between the starting point and the finish line. There are those who are running ahead – perhaps older, wiser, a rock-hard faith shaped by the perils of trial, in love with Jesus and knowing what’s truly important in life. Some are just starting the race, experiencing new sights and trying to find their pace. Some are climbing hills of hardship trying to keep their focus and stamina, while others are slowing to rest, drink in refreshment, and refuel. Wherever we are in the race, there are some in front of us and some behind. As men and women who follow Jesus, we have a high calling to reach out to the next generation and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ through our words, our actions, our love, our very lives. Sometimes we’re in someone’s life for years, perhaps a season, maybe just a moment. But in that moment, God’s Spirit can speak through us and give another exactly what is needed to finish the race. After all, “this is why we run – it’s all about Jesus.”

Look around and pray – who are those younger in your life? Who needs love, support, truth, hope and encouragement? Whom can you begin to invest in? Look around at those older in your life who love the Lord and whom you respect. Will you take a step of faith asking them for wisdom so you can continue to learn and grow?

 

Walking for a Goal

88 mile trek on the Towpath Trail for Special Olympics of Ohio and Toward the Goal Ministries.

TTG Fundraiser Walk (2) 88 mile trek on the Towpath Trail for Special Olympics of Ohio and Toward the Goal Ministries.

Leaving the cityscape behind, the trail led us into a shaded grove of beautiful pink-flowering trees and lush green bushes. All was quiet. A family of ducks swam in the river next to the trail and the birds sang in the trees above. As I enjoyed the new stretch of scenery, I commented to Bruce that this trail was a lot like the path of life. We will never see this exact scene again on this 88 mile walk, so what a privilege to be able to soak it in and enjoy what’s right in front of us.

The “scenery” of our lives changes as well and life’s seasons come and go. One chapter begins and another ends. There will never be another scene like the one we are in right now- offering joys, challenges, relationships, opportunities for personal growth, and life lessons. Are we living in today, thanking God for the beauty of this mile of life, and being intentional with what’s right in front of us?